New Navy Yard park draws residents from across the city

A riverfront park close to the Nationals’ home turf has opened for D.C. residents Sept. 10.

Yards Park, marked by a curved, metal bridge that spans a section of the Anacostia River, saw 10,000 people flock to its grand opening.

Construction began 18 months ago, but the designing and planning started “years ago,” Michael Stevens, executive director of the nonprofit Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District said.

The renovation of the Navy Yard neighborhood was a collaboration between D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Adrian Fenty and the General Services Administration, but the riverside park was Norton’s idea Stevens said.

The park cost a total of $30 million to build, which is funded by future property taxes from the city.

It includes grassy areas, outdoor pavilions, a boardwalk, fountains, a waterfall and an off-leash dog area.

“I come to the park almost every day with [my dog],” said D.C. resident Jack Height, 33, with his dog Barley. “I think it’s great, I think it’s a huge positive for the neighborhood, and on the weekends it’s pretty crowded.”

Other residents described the stark contrast between the area now and what it looked like prior to the development.

“Before it was really impoverished, crime-infested, drug-infested, very urban, but it always had potential,” said Lisa Talbot, who lives in the Navy Yard neighborhood. “For the most part this is a change, and it’s a good change and it has to be something everyone can come down and be proud of, and I think it is.”

Stevens said his organization plans to host events at the park for the community.

“We’re looking to do a fashion show in October, people are calling for weddings, companies are trying to use it for corporate events, and we want to have fall, spring and jazz concert series,” Stevens said. “We want it to become a regional destination for all people.”

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