National Capital Planning Commission

Parks and Waterfronts

NCPC upholds the symbolic, recreational, social, and ecological value of national capital parks, waterfronts, and other open spaces.  

City of Parks

Washington has more parkland than most U.S. Cities: about 700 square feet for each resident. The parks provide recreation space, natural habitats, and formal areas.

CapitalSpace is NCPC's planning initiative devoted solely to parks. The National Park Service and the District of Columbia were partners in the project.

Planning Challenges

Increased demand for parks with a full range of uses is fueled by the city's population and job growth. But many parks have a federal commemorative work or historic character that must be preserved.

NCPC identifies ways to balancedemand for active parks while ensuring that these spaces are held in trust for the entire nation.

Distribution of park space across the city is uneven, and there is no system-wide recreational greenway to connect them.

NCPC's park planning is committed to equitable access to park space across the city. Where new parks cannot be created, bicycle and foot paths can improve access to parks in adjoining neighborhoods or across the city. Maintenance and oversight of the parks is divided among several federal and DC authorities. Guidelines for upkeep vary, and the public is often confused about where to go for permits or to report problems.

NCPC supports the adoption of a shared standard for maintenance and a single point of public contact for information and services.

Hundreds of small parks are scattered across the city. These squares, circles, and triangles are part of the city's historic design, but they do not lend themselves well to many activities. Unused and poorly maintained, they are often so run-down that people don't realize that they are parks.

NCPC supports the transformation of small parks into a citywide network of greenspace. A coordinated approach to design, maintenance, and wayfinding can turn them into attractive, usable public space.


Reviewed Projects

Marvin Gaye Park Read Staff Recommendation
Marvin Gaye Park
(September 2008)
Diamond Teague Park Read Staff Recommendation
Diamond Teague Park
(September 2008)
Georgetown Waterfront Park Read Staff Recommendation
Georgetown Waterfront Park
(February 2007)


Related Publications

Comprehensive Plan:
Parks and Open Space Element


Monumental Core Framework Plan

RFK Stadium Study

Washington's Waterfronts

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