Sunday, October 08, 2006

McMillan, a post from the eckington community board

This was posted last july, and reposted again recently on the eckington yahoo group ( see button at bottom of blog)

Hello Eckingtonians,

I've been reading your posts on McMillan Reservoir, the eastern portion called the old sand filtration site and thought I'd better jump in on this conversation as it is one of my favorite topics.

Application for the historic preservation of McMillan was submitted to the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Review Board in 1990 and McMillan was designated a (an) historic landmark in August 1991. The application was filed by the McMillan Park Committee representing community residents of Bloomingdale and Stronghold neighborhoods and citizens from other wards in DC.

The entire 118 acre site including our 25 acre area bordered by North Capitol and Michigan, Channing and First Street, NW is listed on the DC Historical Preservation Registry and is automatically considered a national landmark as well. Let me be very clear: McMillan already has historic status.

McMillan should not be developed for retail, commercial and housing because it is a very unique feature of Washington, DC.

"The significance of the McMillan Park Reservoir is that (1) it supplied water to the U.S. Capitol, (2) it was the first water treatment plant in Washington, DC that caused the elimination of epidemics of typhoid and reduced incidence of other diseases, (3) its form represented a triumph of the pure water advocates over those who advocated chemical treatment, (4) it is an important contributing element to the McMillan Park system, (5) it is the result of the collaboration of major figures in the City Beautiful movement who later contributed to the aesthetic and architectural development of Washington and (6) the figures who contributed to the McMillan Park planning and sculpture design would carry out the principles of good design through their own projects in public areas for Washington and through membership on the Fine Arts Commission." (Application for Historic Landmark, DC Historic Review Board,1990).

For brevity of the historicity of McMillan, the above paragraph was pulled from the application. However, there is so much more detailed information the residents should know about McMillan before even contemplating tearing it down for a housing subdivision, and retail/commercial development (this kind of development will probably be placed at other sites in the Ward, i.e., Rhode Island Metro, Fort Lincoln, Soldiers Home, etc.)

McMillan has been selected by the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission on Fine Arts Memorials and Museums Taskforce to house a museum and/or a national memorial because there is no longer space on the National Mall for the many other memorial projects which are either proposed or been approved by Congress. From over one hundred sites, our McMillan is number 17.

A museum dedicated to water technology, which would also house a cultural arts center, community meeting spaces and enhanced by an area of open green space to host a variety of gardens, McMillan would be a formal garden park with great fountains of spewing water. It would not be just any ole park. Uses of McMillan should be for park, recreation and educational purposes.

McMillan's green space, with the breezes that hover over it, its vista with rich views of the Howard University clock, a picture postcard of the colorful row homes on North Capitol Street, the Monument and the U.S. Capitol dome (especially against the night sky) and the museum and memorial tributes would be a thing of greatness and a wonder of aesthetics for our City. It would not only bring greatness to our city but to our community.

To destroy McMillan for economical purposes would be an awful act of desecration. The proponents of economic development for the site would prove to be ignorant of this unique treasure and would lack an understanding of its total history.

Gwen Southerland


pumpkininrecovery said...

Thank you for posting this. I live just south of McMillian, and would hate to see such a beautiful green space destroyed by more buildings. We have so much development occuring in this city, I think it would be bad planning to do even more.

Todd said...

I think this is thoughtful and realistic. I think that the majority of Bloomingdale's residents support a thoughtful development of the site. But honestly what VMG is handing us is a clone of Shirlington and Columbia Heights and all those unimaginative "city in the suburbs" or "suburbs in the city" places. The inescapable conclusion here is not that it's a matter of vision, the landscape architects are among the most talented in the country (look at their other projects)'s the limitations put on it by the developer and the city... this is designed to be a money maker pure and simple. And thus the plan's mediocrity. So, realistically, any visionary development of the site is going to need at least to be partly funded by gov't or by a foundation whose goal is not to make money. That's the reality. The unfortunate thing is that this is a waste of a spectacular opportunity. Imagine if they'd filled Rock Creek with condos and office buildings... at least someone back then had a vision of a beautiful space in the city.