City Paper Widget

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stead Park Improvement Community Meeting: East Gate Killed

The Board of the Friends of Stead Park, plus representatives from D.C.'s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and Alexandria-based landscape architects Studio 39, met on June 23 with community members to brief about the soon-to-start renovation of Stead Park (1625 P Street NW). The new design for the renovation included gates on both the east and west sides of the park. Several of the neighbors on the east side of the park came to oppose the gate. After some discussion, the board members agreed to remove the east gate from the project.
Stead Park is in need of some beautification.

"If there's a strong sense you want to kill the east gate, we're OK with that," a Board member said.

Friends of Stead Park President Christopher Dormant chaired the meeting. He said the group and its partners had been working on obtaining the necessary permits from the DC government since January.  They still were not finished with the permitting process. He told the community that some agreed-upon aspects (like the rubber jogging track around the permeter) would not be renegotiated, but community input was still solicited. Groundbreaking was scheduled for next month.

Landscape architect Dan Dove of Studio 39 briefed on the project details. During his presentation, Dove said the east gate was a new addition to the project. It wasn't the drawings during the last presentation to the community in January 2013.

"Where did this come from?" one audience member said during the subsequent Q-and-A session. "This is a major change to be snuck in at the last minute."

"We're very willing to talk about it," Dove replied.

"I didn't hear about this," said another local resident who said people called her "the church lady."

"I think we could have provided some very good feedback," she said.

The presenters said they had done a survey of the park's neighbors, but the neighbors who opposed the gate said they had never heard of such a survey.

"You can never reach everyone," said Friends of Stead Park board member Kishan Putta. Putta is also a Commissioner, representing district 04, on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

(Full disclosure: Kishan Putta is also running for an At-Large seat on DC City Council and I have contributed to his campaign.)

Well before the end of the meeting, Dormant indicated the east gate was not a vital issue and would be removed if the nearby residents were against it.

Other issues discussed:
  • The height of the new permeter fence. It will be lower than the existing chain-link fence (10 feet vs. 16 feet). Some people felt this was too short.
  • Trees. There will be shade trees lining the inside permeter of the park. These Willow Oak trees will start at 14 feet tall and (in addition to providing shade) should absorb sound and perhaps also intercept the occasional misdirected ball before it exits the park.
  • Areas outside the purview of this renovation. They include the 163-year-old building on the P Street side of the site, and the poorly-paved alleys just outside Stead Park's fences.
  • Artificial turf. The presenters said the quality of artificial turf had improved tremendously in the last few years.
  • "We're going to be very aggressive on rat abatement."
  • The performance stage. Neighbors were reassured the stage did not have the infrastructure necessary for large, noisy concerts. It will be more appropriate for children's puppet shows.
There will be a future meeting specifically to address construction and the possible disruption it might cause.

This meeting was also the subject of a June 16 SALM blog post.

(Photo credit: 2013 photo from Borderstan)

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