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