Alethia Tanner Park

Metropolitan Branch Trail Connector is Now Open

The Metropolitan Branch Trail Connector is now open. The Connector is a shared-use portion of a wide plaza that connects the Q Street NE bike lane to the Metropolitan Branch Trail at the southern end of the park. The rest of the park will remain closed given the current city-wide strategies to contain COVID-19 and our limited staff capacity to address critical operational needs.

We hope this additional connection to the MBT helps facilitate appropriate social distancing as we all work together in support of our community and our health. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected].

Grand Opening Postponed

We look forward to a big grand opening of the park at a later date, when we can enjoy the lawn, high-five each other, and properly dedicate the park in memory of Alethia Tanner.

Please continue to send good vibes to our baby grass, which will be closed through at least May to enable strong root growth. Hop on the @NoMaParksDC social media outlets to write poems encouraging people to wait for the grass.

The Park Name

In summer 2018, four possible names for the 2.5-acre space were presented to the community to vote on. More than 2,100 people participated in the online poll, and with 65% of the vote, Tanner Park was selected as the park’s name.

Alethia Tanner, who was born a slave in Maryland in the 1780s, purchased her freedom in 1810, as well as the freedom of many family members. She was a strong proponent of educational initiatives for blacks in the District. In addition to supporting several schools for free black children though her entrepreneurial ventures, including a produce stand in Lafayette Park, she funded the education of family members who would later be leaders in the city’s education scene.

In March 2019, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie introduced legislation to officially name the park “Alethia Tanner Park,” and the D.C. Council passed legislation later that year.

History of the Park

In December 2015, the NoMa Parks Foundation acquired two acres of vacant land owned by Pepco. As envisioned in the NoMa Parks 2012 Public Realm Design Plan,  the park originally called “NoMa Green” will provide for outdoor recreation and community gatherings and serve as NoMa’s “backyard.” In May 2016, an additional half-acre of park space was acquired at the northeast corner, allowing for the softening of the R Street NE Z-turn on the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT). These transactions earned the NoMa Parks Foundation a “Best Community Impact” award as part of the Washington Business Journal’s Best Real Estate Deals of 2016. The NoMa Parks Foundation worked with the community during 2016 and 2017 to design the park.

“NoMa Green” Rendering

At a NoMa Parks Community Conversation on October 25, 2016, the NoMa Parks Foundation introduced Nelson Byrd Woltz as the selected landscape architecture firm to develop a concept design for the park. The firm was selected from a design competition; its initial design concept was based on the design developed for the competition. Over the next two years, Nelson Byrd Woltz worked to create a design that meets the community’s needs and interests in the park.

The NoMa Parks Foundation selected Forrester Construction to serve as the general contractor for the construction of Alethia Tanner Park. Work began in March 2019 and was completed in spring 2020.

“NoMa Green” Final Concept Design

The Park Details

North of New York Avenue, bounded by Harry Thomas Way NE on the west and the MBT on the east, this large parcel of land is the best opportunity to provide an expansive, open green space in the neighborhood. With its MBT adjacency and strong trail connections, the park will be easily accessible from many surrounding neighborhoods.

The NoMa Parks Foundation solicited and has received a great deal of community input over several years about neighborhood aspirations for this large green space. Outreach included more than eight community meetings, attendance at ANC and ANC committee meetings, and online input. Goals shared and implemented in the selected park design include a strong connection to the MBT, a large flexible green space, a dog park, and a meadow. The park also includes a children’s playground, flexible seating areas, a cafe kiosk, and a stage area.

Select Press Mentions

• DCist: NoMa Set to Break Ground on Tanner Park in January (12/4/18)

• Greater Greater Washington: NoMa Wants Your Help Naming Its New Large Park (8/15/17)

• Washington Business Journal: Best Real Estate Deals / Best Community Impact: NoMa Green (4/27/17)