- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2008

D.C. officials yesterday announced a parking and transportation plan around the Nationals new ballpark that would make it more difficult for fans to use nearby streets to park their cars.

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and D.C. Department of Transportation Director Emeka Moneme yesterday reiterated calls for fans to take Metro to the new stadium and outlined a plan that restricts parking in the area almost entirely for residents.

The plan includes several different metered-parking options. DDOT plans to increase the price on parking meters along Barracks Row and Pennsylvania Avenue to encourage fans to use cash lots instead of street parking. In residential areas, one side of every block will be set aside for people who live in the neighborhood, while the other side will allow just two-hour parking for nonresidents.

DDOT plans to mail out one visitor pass to each household. The passes will have a special holograph to prevent fraud.

In all, there will be only 1,000 available spaces in the ballpark area for fans on game days.

“We want to enhance the great experience when you come to baseball games, but we also want to minimize the impact to residents and the community,” Mr. Moneme said.

The city’s plan follows recommendations made by D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, and was fleshed out following several public meetings. The D.C. Council is expected to vote on the plan next Tuesday.

“I’m pleased that the mayor and DDOT have embraced these ideas, and we’re moving with a strategy to protect Ward 6 resident parking and help small businesses from the crush of ballpark visitors we’re about to experience,” Mr. Wells said in a statement.

Meanwhile yesterday, a panel of three arbitrators ruled unanimously in favor of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission in a dispute with the Nationals involving millions of dollars of costs at the new ballpark.

The Nationals had claimed that the city was liable for $4.2 million in “furniture, fixtures and equipment,” including items ranging from forklifts, office chairs and uniforms for security guards. The arbitrators ruled that the Nationals would be liable for those costs.

The saved money is expected to provide the commission with extra breathing room as it seeks to complete the stadium without violating the D.C. Council’s $475 million cap on hard and soft costs on the stadium.

“We’re pleased,” said Bill Hall, vice chairman of the sports commission. “This will further help assure that the stadium will be built under the cost cap. This is a very positive development.”

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