Category Archives: Why Not

Why Not: Hold Parades?


As part of his occasional Why Not series, today GM ponders this: Why Not hold parades in Georgetown?

This thought occurred to him when he took in the Alexandria Scottish Christmas parade in Old Town last December. This parade–along with the equally Celtic St. Patrick’s Day Parade–always brings the best out of the Alexandria community. The route is lined, often several rows deep, with cheerful residents and visitors. The homeowners get into the spirit by decorating their houses with the St. Andrews flag and donning kilts. And following the parade, the shops are mobbed with people eager to knock a few names off their Christmas gift list.

The parades always leave GM a little bittersweet. Does Georgetown lack the sort of community spirit that Old Town has? Or does it lack the opportunity to express it?

What GM particularly likes about the Old Town parade is that it spends most of its route winding through the quaint residential streets. Perhaps that’s why the residents get so into it, they’ve got no choice.

So why not bring that opportunity to Georgetown with a parade of its own?

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Why Not: Rename Rose Park Herring Hill Park?

A long time ago GM ran an occasional series called “Why Not?” in which he’d make some wild eyed proposal for Georgetown (e.g. “Why Not Build a Ferry to Roosevelt Island?“, or the prescient “Why Not Build a Waterfront Ice Rink?“). It’s been a while, and maybe that means GM is out of ideas, good or bad.

But today he is dusting off the series: Why not rename Rose Park “Herring Hill Park”?

Herring Hill is the name given to the historically African-American community that was centered south of P St. and east of 29th St. Legend has it that the name came from the practice of the community members to eat herring out of Rock Creek.

In other words: Rose Park is Herring Hill. Continue reading


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Waterfront Begins Construction on Largest Outdoor Ice Rink in DC

Courtesy of MRP Realty.

MRP Realty, the owners of the Washington Harbour complex, announce yesterday that they are beginning construction to convert their fancy new fountain into an ice rink for the winter.

From the release:

The 11,800-square-foot Washington Harbour Ice Rink — larger than the rinks at Rockefeller Center in New York City and the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden in Washington — will be ready to welcome its first skaters before Thanksgiving. In addition to offering open skating, discounts to college students and the opportunity to skate with Santa Claus, the rink will accommodate parties and special events, such as birthdays, family gatherings and corporate events.

11,800 is more than two-thirds the size of a full NHL ice rink. The release points out that the rink will be larger than Rockefeller Center’s and the National Gallery of Art’s. It will also be larger than the two other outdoor rinks close by DC: Pentagon Row and Silver Spring. At 7,200 square feet, the Silver Spring rink was cited as the largest outdoor rink between DC and Baltimore; so the Georgetown rink may end up being the largest outdoor rink in the whole greater metropolitan area. (New York being New York has to have the last word though. Real New Yorkers know not to use Rockefeller Center but rather the gigantic Wollman Rink in Central Park, which is a whopping 30,000 square feet). Continue reading


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Why Not: Build a Ferry to Roosevelt Island?

Last weekend, as GM was taking in the newly completed waterfront park, his eyes (as well as many of the eyes of his fellow layabouts) were drawn to Roosevelt Island. It sits so tantalizingly close to Georgetown, yet it’s a true pain in the ass to visit. From the waterfront park, it’s over a mile walk across the Key Bridge and along a highway. This situation inspired GM to dust off his “Why Not” feature to ponder: why not build a ferry between the Georgetown Waterfront Park and Roosevelt Island?

The distance between the park and the island is just over 100 yards. It would be possible to build a small pedestrian ferry to shuttle small groups of people back and forth from the waterfront park amphitheater to the island. All that would be needed would be a small dock at either end. The ferry could be wire guided or simply be a small independent boat.

Connected this way, the two parks would truly complement each other. The waterfront park is beautifully landscaped and sunny, but it doesn’t provide that much in the way of footpaths. To walk a mile, you’d probably have to walk in a circle a couple times. Roosevelt Island, on the other hand, is almost nothing but paths and wild nature. With an easy connection, visitors could come to the waterfront park, have a picnic, and then make their way over to the island for a hike. Continue reading


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Why Not Indeed: Waterfront to Build Ice Rink

Courtesy of MRP Realty.

Back in January, GM published an entry in his occasional “Why Not” series. This time he asked: Why not build a waterfront ice rink? In all honesty, GM thought it was a huge pipe dream and had no chance of actually coming to pass. But shortly after publishing it, GM was approached by Sue Hamilton of the Georgetown Business Association to let him know it’s not such a pipe dream after all.

Turns out that back in the 90s, there was an ice rink on the waterfront. At the time, the park was rented from the feds by the city, so NPS’s policy against “active parks” was not a problem. The ice rink itself was a portable unit and it came from the recently defunct Ice Capades. The rink was up for several years before the city turned the park back over to NPS and the rink was kicked out. Since then, however, it has remained in storage. Sue told GM, though, about the nascent plans and that a return of the rink was a real possibility.

While GM was thinking more about a rink in the waterfront park, the plans, as reported by the Post, call for the Washington Harbour fountain to be converted to a rink, and that’s probably a better idea. The restaurants can cater to the crowds with hot chocolate and the like. Continue reading


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Why Not: Set Up an Ice Rink at the Waterfront?

Photo by Kevin H.

As part of an occasional series, GM stops to ask “Why Not?” Today he asks: Why not set up an ice rink at the waterfront?

The idea came to GM over the holiday as he was skating in an open air ice rink along Long Island Sound on Christmas Day. It was such a beautiful scene and even on a day like that, it drew a crowd.

In DC it is not as simple as throwing down a tarp and flooding it (as can be done up north). It can take a lot of technology. So maybe (rather, probably) GM is dreaming here. But who doesn’t think it would be an amazing scene to see people gathered by the Potomac skating? Take a trip to any of the other outdoor ice rinks in the area (e.g. the National Gallery of Art rink, Pentagon Row, Silver Spring). They’re packed this time of year. Think of how many people would come down to the waterfront to skate. Popular and wholesome all at once! Continue reading


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Why Not: Shut Down M St. on Weekends?

Traffic Jam on M St. by M.V. Jantzen.

Today for his occasional “Why Not” series, GM turns to the ugliness that is M St. on a summer weekend. So he asks: Why not shut down M St.?

It’s an idea GM thinks about every time he sees gridlock on M St. There is a concept called a traffic tipping point. At the center of this concept is the observation that once the numbers of travelers passes a certain threshold, the entire system seizes up. Thus, a very small increase in the number of cars on an already crowded road can result in huge delays due to congestion. (The opposite has also been observed: a small reduction in vehicles on a gridlocked road can result in significant reductions in delays).

Once it’s warm, on every Saturday by about 2:00 PM, a traffic tipping point is passed on M St. Traffic comes to a standstill. It can take 20 minutes, if not longer, to get from one end of Georgetown to the other.

There has got to be a better way. Continue reading


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Why Not: Secede From Washington?

Yesterday, GM’s fellow Georgetown blogger Carol Joynt suggested a provocative solution to Georgetown’s problems: secession. She writes:

We could be the City of Georgetown or the Town of Georgetown. Regardless, have our own mayor, our own council, our own police force (on some streets we already do), our own public school system, contract out – like DC does – for a lot of the utility work (think: plowing snow), our own parking enforcement, our own ABC Board, and use our local tax dollars for Georgetown’s own needs. We already provide a local bus system.

Reading her post reminded GM that he has long been thinking about adding another installment in his Why Not? series about this very question. As long as Carol has started the conversation, GM might as well chime in.

Bit of History:

Bit of history first: The municipality of Georgetown was created as a town by Maryland in 1789. When the District of Columbia was formed from parts of Maryland and Virginia, Georgetown was included. But it remained a separate municipality within the District until 1871 when it was merged with the city of Washington. Ever since then the city of Washington and the District of Columbia have been one in the same (actually, technically speaking the city of Washington ceased to exist in 1871 as well). Continue reading


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Why Not: Build More Bike Lanes?

Photo by Elly Blue.

As part of an occasional series, GM asks “Why Not?“. Today he asks: why not build some bike lanes in Georgetown?

For those not familiar with them, bike lanes are special lanes painted on roads the designate a space on the road just for bikes. In DC they generally take the space between the travel lane and the parking lane. Compliance with the lanes is spotty. And there is a passionate debate among bikers as to whether bike lanes are even better for bikers in the first place, although one study suggests that at the very least bike lanes encourage more biking.

As part of its Bicycle Master Plan, the city hopes to build 50 miles of bike lanes across the city by 2010, and 100 by 2015. As of this summer, they had already reached somewhere around 37 miles, so these goals seem obtainable. But what about Georgetown?

As reported here, the city is planning to build two bike lanes in Georgetown: on 34th and 33rd 35th. In fact, these lanes are currently being painted and should be ready within weeks. But these lanes are north-south and do not do much to tie Georgetown in with the rest of the city’s bike network. Why not build east-west routes that connect Georgetown to that network?

But what are the candidates?

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Why Not: Bring “Performance Parking” to Georgetown?

If there’s one thing people (both resident and visitor alike) complain most about Georgetown, it’s parking. Residents can’t reliably park close to their homes and visitors circle blocks over and over looking for a spot to leave their car for a few hours as they eat or shop. It seems like a perpetual problem without a solution. But there is a solution for residential street parking near entertainment districts: here in DC we call it “performance parking” and it’s an effective means by which scarce parking spaces can be efficiently allocated while simultaneously giving preferences to residents. Read more about how this program already works over by Nationals Park and how it could work here after the jump:

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