A rendering of the entrance the new park from the Met Branch Trail. Image by NoMa Parks Foundation.

The NoMa Parks Foundation has opened voting on four possible names for its new large park off the Metropolitan Branch Trail: Tanner Park, Gales Wood, Met Branch Commons, or Union Green.

Each name for the 2.5-acre park, which will rise on the southern half of the empty field adjacent to the trail just south of R Street NE in Eckington, has roots in the area. For example, Tanner Park is named after Alethia Browning Tanner, a formerly enslaved woman who helped sponsor some of the first schools for black children in DC. Gales Wood is a nod to newspaper publisher and one-time mayor Joseph Gales Jr. whose country home became the Eckington neighhorhood.

Mock ups of signs with proposed Tanner Park and Gales Wood names. Image by NoMa Parks Foundation.

Met Branch Commons comes from the park's proximity to the trail, and Union Green from the former rail yard on the site that is to become the park.

Mock ups of signs with proposed Met Branch Commons and Union Green names. Image by NoMa Parks Foundation.

“We're very excited about this project,” says Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID), which includes the NoMa Parks Foundation. They expect more than 15,000 responses to the survey.

NoMa selected the four possible names out of 112 submissions it received after soliciting input from the community last year. Voting is open until June 15.

A name with broad appeal

The proposed names for the new park purposely steer clear of the controversy between nearby residents and NoMa over the space. The “NoMa Green” placeholder name for the park sparked concerns among some community members that lesser-known but older Eckington, where the park is technically located, could lose some of its identity to its better-known and newer neighbor to the south.

“We are invested in creating a park that is loved by the surrounding community for a couple of hundred years at a minimum, we're not invested in a name,” said Jasper on the naming controversy last year.

The site for NoMa's new large park straddles the newer BID and the century-old Eckington neighborhood. Image by the author.

The four names eschew references to either Eckington or NoMa, instead tapping into local history or nearby landmarks, like the Met Branch Trail and Union Station. This is the approach outlined by Pentagram, which advised NoMa Parks on the framework for soliciting community input, at a meeting last August.

“The name of this park will shape how people perceive it,” said Britt Cobb, an associate partner at Pentagram, at a community meeting.

Image by NoMa Parks Foundation.

This approach was used for Swampoodle Park at 3rd Street NE and L Street NE. Community members voted for the moniker that reflects the nickname given by neighborhoods' former Irish residents from a slate of three, including Old City Corner and 3rd and L Park.

Be sure to vote on the name for NoMa's new large park before June 15!