Garfield and “Spielberg” Parks Slated for Upgrades/New Equipment
by Larry Janezich
The Department of Parks and Recreation hosted two virtual community meetings this week to solicit input on the planned upgrade of two Capitol Hill parks: Garfield Park at 3rd and New Jersey Avenue, SE, and “Spielberg” Park at 17th and Massachusetts Avenue, SE. The latter was informally named by the community after movie director Steven Spielberg donated playground equipment for the park after shooting part of the film Minority Report in the neighborhood.
The project timelines for both parks are the same, with the kick-off community meetings having occurred on Monday and Tuesday of this week. A survey to solicit additional community input will be distributed later this month. Another community meeting will be held this summer to introduce the contractor to the community.
Construction is estimated to start in the fall of 2021 and be complete in the summer of 2022.
Councilmember Charles Allen participated in the virtual meeting on Garfield Park on Tuesday night. Allen provided funding for both park improvements in the current FY budget. He said that DPR is working internally to find additional funding for Garfield. “The park is a draw for numerous neighbors from all over Capitol Hill. I go to Garfield Park.” He said there isn’t enough money in the current budget item to do everything and he will be looking at doing more. “I’m listening for what more needs to be done” Allen added, “and for the priorities”.
On Monday night, DPR landscape architect David Wooden told participants in the meeting on “Spielberg” Park that the budget for the project is $750,000. Features DPR is focusing on for this park include:
- ADA upgrades
- Landscaping/turf building/sprucing up
- New furnishings for the site – benches and seating area
- Replacement of existing playground equipment and adding a shade feature
- Lighting upgrades
The community voiced its interest in having part of the park devoted to a grownup needs and space for seniors.
Tuesday night, Wooden pegged the projected budget for Garfield Park at $900,000. The scope of improvements for Garfield Park includes:
- Landscape improvements
- New site furnishings
- Playground equipment and replace surface of the playground
- Lighting improvements
- ADA accessibility
- Tennis court surface improvements
- A site erosion study
Wooden said that if we don’t get everything the community wants, those requests will carry over to when funds are available.
The well-attended meeting (50+) prompted lots of questions in the chat. DPR responses provided additional information:
- There is no plan to do anything with the DDOT 395 underpass right now.
- A dog park is not currently part of this project.
- A proposed community fund raising effort is welcome.
Other questions showed that there is a lot of community interest in pickle ball courts, rehabilitation the basketball courts and skate park under the freeway, and about the homeless population in the park.
With respect to the latter, Wooden cited the difficulties that the has pandemic brought with respect to housing for the homeless, and said his agency was trying to work with the Department of Human Resources to help get the homeless to a better place.
Allen raised a concern directly with the DPR and DGS reps at the meeting about funds intended for new improvements being used to repair existing features of parks – not just these parks, but in a lot of parks. He pushed the agencies to commit to providing a budget for maintenance costs.
The agencies responded that they recognized the need for more and better maintenance and the need to be more proactive.