The Post did a fantastic job on D.C.’s “forgotten river.” There are photographers, fishermen and activists that all get enjoyment out of beautiful body of water most dismiss as disgusting. Even bleery-eyed commuters rolling over Benning Road or East Capitol Street should open their eyes: The morning mist rolling over the river on a cool, bright day is an invigorating sight indeed.
Personally, I love running on the Anacostia Riverwalk, birdwatching for herons and eagles and sitting at Yards Park and watching the sun set. Unfortunately, doing any of these activities after a rain storm is an exercise in environmental depression. The Post does a good job of explaining why that came to be.
The only thing missing from the otherwise excellent package is a link to a great Boswell column on the history of RFK Stadium published Saturday. The grotesque road infrastructure that feeds into the 50-year-old stadium plays a huge part in the amount of trash and runoff that go right into the water. It’s an article I’d like to have seen written.
While the Redskins and Nationals may have drawn many thousands of drivers in the past, today there are only a handful of events that come close to snagging all the acres of parking taken up by the stadium. And Independence Avenue and C Street NE are overbuilt in the area around the stadium. Six lanes. In addition to tailgaters dumping their grills out feet from the river, plenty of broken glass and food-related trash piles are strewn across the land after even a paltry United game.
The stadium’s employees and mayoral summer job workers do a good job cleaning as they can, but I think it is impossible to ignore that RFK has played a significant part in the pollution and overall deterioration of the river. It takes up huge chunks of waterfront real estate, resulting in vast expanses of asphalt and encouraged speeding and associated trash throwing by making the landscape appear so desolate. The juxtaposition of a waterway and a grey mass of concrete do little to instill pride in the Anacostia.
The river would get more attention when/if the stadium and its roadways and parking lots are cut back and residents move in as part of long-stalled development. One must only look across the way to River Terrace, a residential neighborhood on the river’s west bank, to see it is entirely possible to be a good neighbor to the river.
Even a new stadium (for United) or perhaps a wholesale retrofitting would be an improvement, with all the “greener” construction methods used in 2011 versus 1961.