NCPC, NPS, and the DC government have a new site for a new parks partnership, CapitalSpace. The alliance aims to improve DC’s smaller parks, link larger parks with greenways, and balance the various demands on the major parks.

However, I have a major quibble with this map, which lists the total acreage of parks in DC broken down by NPS parks, DC parks, and other open space (like the Zoo) and by neighborhood. Many of the so-called parkland isn’t parkland at all. NPS lists as “parkland” such areas as Rock Creek Parkway/Beach Drive, Canal Road/Clara Barton Parkway, the giant parking lots east of RFK Stadium, and the ramp spaghetti area between the Kennedy Center, Foggy Bottom, and the Lincoln Memorial.

These areas aren’t available for protecting nature, passive enjoyment, or active recreation. They’re only available for driving. Whether you think these areas should be roads or not (I don’t), it’s disingenous to call it a “park”. Without this land counted, the statistics would be even worse, and the disparity between parkland in the center city versus the outer reaches would be even greater.

"Parkway” and “parking lot” may have “park” in their names, but just because the National Park Service owns the land, a highway is a highway and not a park.

Tagged: dc, ncpc, nps, parks

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.