Work on Garfield Park Will Start Next Spring

The swings will stay the other equipment pictured will go.  Photo: Hilary Russell               

Work on Garfield Park Will Start Next Spring

by Hilary Russell

Posted October 10, 2022

The long overdue refurbishment of Garfield Park is off the starting blocks, though work won’t begin until next spring.  The design and permitting period will end in February 2023, and work won’t be completed until summer or fall.

At an October 5 virtual community meeting, Landscape architect David Wooden of DC’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) outlined the $1.3 million contract awarded in June to Broughton Construction and the Capitol Hill design firm Studio Laan. He declared at the outset that the contract applies to “Garfield Park proper” and not to the area under the freeway managed by the DC Department of Transportation (DDOT).

He presented a map with alphabetically labeled areas where work is planned. Tennis courts are to be repaired and pickleball striping added (A); volleyball and bocce courts refurbished (B and C); and playground equipment replaced and repaired (D and E). Erosion control will focus on specific areas (F), though bench and picnic-table refurbishment and repair will extend from (G) to other locations.

No trees will be removed or planted; some may be trimmed. Children will say goodbye to some of the park’s more eccentric play equipment, but will enjoy refurbished swings, poured-in-place (PIP) rubber surfaces, and quite a lot of new equipment.  It’s not yet clear how much, but options seem to include a Sensory Wall, Saddle Spinner, Double Bobble Rider, Cozy Dome, Revi Wheel, and We-Saw.

The focus on playground equipment reflects responses to an online DPL survey.  Among nearly 800 respondents, 53 percent cited “playground” in response to the question, “What new features or improvements to existing amenities would you like to see implemented at Garfield Park? (select all that apply).”  Passive-use amenities – picnic tables, lighting, erosion issues, and lawn, in that order – scored higher in the survey than active-use adult amenities, including tennis and volleyball courts.  The presentation did not reference lighting, a preference listed by 43 percent of respondents.

The DPL survey listed pickleball, skatepark, and basketball, none of which exist in the park. Friends of Garfield Park has lobbied for these amenities in the area under DDOT jurisdiction: for rebuilding the defunct basketball court; adding a skate park; and smoothing out the cracked and pitted surface of Virginia Avenue where pickleball players have established three courts at their own expense.

Pickle ball played on Virginia Ave., near the New Jersey Ave overpass.  Photo: Hilary Russell

At the community meeting, Robert Krughoff, long-time board member of Friends of Garfield Park, argued for repaving this closed-off roadway instead of adding pickleball stripes to the park’s heavily used tennis courts.  The response was that DDOT would be responsible for such repaving and has no budget for it. Wooten reported this statement by Abdullahi Mohamed, manager of DDOT’s Garfield Park-Canal Park Connector Project, which aims make the area more pedestrian – and bicycle-friendly and mitigate erosion by establishing a “bioretention area” south of the park’s volleyball courts.

Krughoff urged DPL to work hard and more urgently with DDOT to plan better uses for the neglected and wasted space under the freeway, engaging Friends of Garfield Park in this process and assessment of how much money is required.

To date, this post-presentation discussion is not included in the recording available at https://dgs.dc.gov/page/garfield-park-and-playground-improvements . Those wishing to dig deeper can view and listen to the presentation and send follow-up questions to david.wooden1@dc.gov and abdullahi.mohamed@dc.gov .

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Work on Garfield Park Will Start Next Spring

  1. Spain Kellie

    What about climbing equipment for children older then toddlers? That is one of the draws right now, is that Garfield Park has some of the best climbing equipment! (Ed. Note: The presentation listed a range of new equipment for the playground for older children. Please have a look at it online and communicate any additional concerns to David Wooden. david.wooden1@dc.gov )

  2. Ann

    A reasonably sized fenced in dog run suitable for larger dogs to be able to actually run would be nice. The one by Whole Foods is too small and not secure since dogs can easily climb on the benches and jump over the fence onto the road.

    Could there be parking spaces made available on Virginia Avenue to take the strain off residential parking on the opposite side of the park?
    (Ed. Note: A dog park is not part of the DPL plan. Nor is parking under Virginia Avenue, which is under DDOT’s jurisdiction.)