A dog and children’s park on 26th Street is slated for $1 million in repairs from D.C. government – but the money won’t arrive until 2022.
The D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment funded renovations to improve the park, located between I and K streets, in the fiscal year 2018 budget. The Department of General Services renovated the park last fall after neighbors said it had fallen into a state of disrepair with dilapidated playground equipment, collapsed fences and contaminated soil, but neighbors said the renovations did not fix all of the park’s issues.
During the renovations, the general services department created a work and budget estimate for more permanent renovations, according to the recent budget report from the committee.
The next updates to the park will include adding a retaining wall and drainage system, replacing soil, adding water dispensers, a waste station and trash compactor and removing sidewalk obstructions on the west side of 26th Street, according to the report.
The transportation committee recommended $1 million in allocations to the Department of Parks and Recreation, which originally constructed the park. The committee also recommended the parks department work with the Foggy Bottom Association to ensure the area is properly maintained.
The office of Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans did not return requests to comment about why the budget doesn’t fund the project until 2022.
The D.C. Council will vote on the fiscal year 2018 budget, including the park renovations, Tuesday.
Community leaders said the park gives children and dogs a space to play in an urban neighborhood with few other options.
William Kennedy Smith, a Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood commissioner – the community organization that oversees the area including the park – said he hopes the slated repairs come sooner than 2022.
“The fact that it is now codified in the city’s budget that’s been signed by the mayor makes me feel like there is a real incentive for the city to take ownership of this,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if things moved more rapidly than that.”
Smith, who has lived in the neighborhood for 13 years, said his three children use the park every day and that he sought to improve the park even before joining the ANC.
The general services department found “egregious” conditions at the park, like contaminated soil, dirty and dilapidated playground equipment, collapsed fencing and land erosion before last fall’s renovations, according to the committee’s budget. The park also had a rusted junction box with exposed high voltage equipment moved – which the electric company Pepco and D.C. Water later moved – and fencing that was falling down, Smith said.
“It looked terrible, and something like that which is an eyesore and is in such a state of disrepair has an impact on the feeling of the neighbors as they try to enjoy their neighborhood,” Smith said about the park before its fall renovations.
Smith said that although the fall renovations helped, the park is still in a state of disrepair and that the parks department may discover potential coding violations that need to be addressed.
Real estate developer Boston Properties is also considering funding park improvements as part of its 2100 Pennsylvania Ave. development project, creating a retail and business center out of two GW-owned buildings, Jake Stroman, an assistant project manager at Boston Properties, said.
When the company has a major project in a neighborhood, it funds community-requested projects in an amenities package expected to be released in the next few months, he said. Boston Properties has added the park to the list of community-recommended amenities.
“We’re going to look at all the requests we received holistically and come up with a comprehensive amenities package,” Stroman said.
Unsure of who owns the property, Foggy Bottom Association President Marina Streznewski said the FBA gradually took over maintenance of the park. Streznewski said the park’s murky ownership was one of the reasons that the fall repairs did not include the future improvements slated for 2022.
“I think it will make it a more pleasant experience for everyone,” she said. “People have said it is nicer to bring kids.”
Craig Hanna, a neighborhood resident for the last few months, said he comes to the dog park almost every day with his two shetland sheepdogs. Hanna said he noticed the park was run-down before its repairs last fall and since then, volunteers have maintained the park.
“If you look at the other dog parks in the area, some of them aren’t attended to at all.” he said. “You feel good about bringing your four-legged friends here and letting them loose.”
Justine Coleman contributed reporting.