Francis Field Plan Approved; Rebecca Coder Steps Down as FFF President

Fran­cis Field Plan Approved; Rebecca Coder Steps Down as FFF President

An archi­tec­tural plan for Fran­cis Field in the West End was passed unan­i­mously by the Foggy Bottom/West End Advi­sory Neigh­bor­hood Com­mis­sion (ANC-2A) at its Decem­ber 17 meeting.

This plan changes the design of the for­mer ath­letic field on 25th Street into more of a multi-use neigh­bor­hood park, while still pro­vid­ing ade­quate space for league soc­cer play and soft­ball games. A new archi­tec­tural plan for the field was a require­ment of a 2007 order by the Dis­trict of Colum­bia Zon­ing Com­mis­sion, which was nego­ti­ated by the Friends of Fran­cis Field (FFF) and ANC-2A. Under the zon­ing order and agree­ment, the plan pro­vides for the plant­ing of mature trees on the field, and the instal­la­tion of new benches, trash con­tain­ers, a drink­ing foun­tain and other improvements.

In the new plan unveiled by the Depart­ment of Parks and Recre­ation (DPR) on Decem­ber 17, and approved by ANC-2A that evening, the field will also have a dog park at the north end. This was a request of the West End Dog Group, which sup­ported FFF in its efforts to have Fran­cis Field become more of a neighborhood-serving recre­ation area, with space for both active and pas­sive use. The unnec­es­sary “life-guard park­ing lot” near Fran­cis Swim­ming Pool will also be elim­i­nated and returned to the land­scaped area it was designed to be when the new pool was built in 1993.

Before vot­ing on the new plan, ANC-2A took a sep­a­rate vote on the issue of stadium-style light­ing on the field, which neigh­bors have opposed for many years. The ANC’s vote was unan­i­mous for no “field lights” or stadium-style light­ing on the field. This was an impor­tant vote in itself, as DPR direc­tor Clark Ray stated in a meet­ing with key stake­hold­ers on Octo­ber 7, 2008, that he would remove lights from Fran­cis Field if the ANC voted to do so. Park light­ing for safety is included in the zon­ing order and sup­ported by the neighborhood.

Rebecca Coder, the FFF pres­i­dent who suc­cess­fully steered the field plan through the com­pli­cated approval process, announced today (Decem­ber 22) that she will step down as FFF pres­i­dent to con­cen­trate on her upcom­ing duties as ANC com­mis­sioner for the 2A02 West End dis­trict. Rebecca ran as a write-in can­di­date for the ANC seat in the Novem­ber 4 elec­tion, and won with 80 per cent of all votes cast. She takes office Jan­u­ary 2.

The next and final step in the approval process for the Fran­cis Field plan will be review by the U.S. Com­mis­sion of Fine Arts, prob­a­bly at its Jan­u­ary 22 meet­ing. FBN

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