The 5pm Post – celebrate the opening of the new playground and the start of the pool season at Upshur Park

From an email:


WASHINGTON, DC (June 1, 2011) — Join the Friends of 16th Street Heights Parks, Councilmember Muriel Bowser’s Office, ANC4C05, the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the 16th Street Neighborhood Association on Saturday, June 4, 2011 from 11:45 to 4:00 to celebrate the opening of the new playground and the start of the pool season at Upshur Park. (4300 Arkansas Ave, NW – 14th and Upshur/Varnum St, NW)

· 11:45 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony with Muriel Bowser and Department of Parks and Recreation representatives

· 12:00 – 2:00 Lunch

· Entertainment including a DJ, kids activities and more!

The new playground has something for all ages including climbing equipment, a sand area for toddlers, swings and a rubberized surface that is safe and sustainable. New fencing, landscaping and hardscaping along with picnic tables and a pavilion with a vegetated roof make it a functional, accessible and beautiful space for families to enjoy.

19 Comment

  • andy


    Also, make sure your kids don’t crash into the rock walls. They are a hazard.

  • Has anyone been swimming in any of the outdoor pools yet? Would love to go to Banneker this weekend but I’m wondering if the water is frigid.

  • Has anyone with kids actually been to this park yet? I was very excited about the remodel and had been anxiously awaiting its completion. While the design of the park is visually appealing, it’s as if no one who has ever watched a kid play on a playground designed it.

    Gripe #1: The enormous litter box, I mean sandbox, for tots. First of all, anyone who has been involved in playground development- particularly in areas with a lot of low-income residents nearby- knows that sand boxes just become disgusting, flea ridden litter boxes for the area’s feral cats and an ashtray for the smoking teens. There is no way I would let my child into that thing. Additionally, the sand box is not a box, but a pit that is level with the rest of the playground. There is no lip or barrier to prevent the sand from leaving the sand box area. I was there the third day the park was open and there was already sand spread out all over the playground. And finally, the park is full of unattended/unsupervised kids. I saw at least a dozen of them taking handfuls of sand out of the box and dropping it and rubbing it around all of the other play structures. Again, 3rd day after it opened, there was sand everywhere.

    Gripe #2: While most of the park has that great rubberized surface that is soft on the knees and to falls, it is interspersed with several rows of gravel. Again, this is completely level with the rest of the surface so the gravel is already all over the place. And like the sand, the kids can’t resist but to play with it and fill the brand new play equipment with the dusty stuff.

    Not even a few days after it opened, the park looked a mess and it can only get worse over time. I am really disappointed that these few small, yet highly impactful design flaws mar what could have been a fantastic park for years to come. I realize this may seem like a petty gripe compared to worse atrocities in the world, I just find it really annoying that so much time and money went into this renovation without the foresight of how these design features will impact the long-term usability or condition of the playground.

    • Maybe the it’s the same guy who designed the dog park doors and surface.

    • andy

      We have taken the kid there three-four times already. The sand is undoubtedly going to be a mess.

      How kids will travel around didn’t seem well taken into account. There is the gravel as you mentioned. There are also the stone walls near the rubberized “hills” that are ready to be crashed into. And to walk out, you have to go to one corner and turn down the sidewalk, or jump/step over a garden area. My kid under 2 wants to just cross over to the sidewalk and I’m sure most will, so that will be a problem.

      But – I am glad it’s open and little guy can use it and so can the rest of the neighborhood. Unsupervised kids playing is not great, but I’m not sure what the kids would do if the park was closed to kids without parents watching them. I just watch my kid and try to make sure he doesn’t get run over.

      • Yes. This is an extremely petty series of gripes. We use the park all the time. My 2 year old loves it. Always wants to go there. He particularly loves the sand areas. I think its a great idea.

        Based on your comments, sounds like my kid will have a lot more fun with those low income kids who seem to mess things up for other people than with your kid.

        • Yeah, they ARE small things. Glad we have the park. I just worry a little sometimes.

          On a more sour note, most people don’t appreciate being told they don’t like poor people as much as the speaker does. A charitable reading of what I wrote would reveal that I was only worried about kids being supervised. See you at the park!

          • Andy, that was my husband commenting above and I can speak for him, I think, when I say that it wasn’t actually your comment to which he was responding. It was the much longer one above, which actually did seem to have a problem with the low-income kids using the park. Perhaps it wasn’t his/her intent, but it certainly came off that way. Pissed me off, too.

            I have actually complained at home, too, about the unsupervised kids, after having to tell other people’s kids more than once to not do something–and not just annoying things, actually dangerous things. But I try to look at it as a return to the way things were when I was a kid, when my neighbors/my mom’s friends had every right–and did–to tell me to knock it off if I was out of line. I don’t enjoy it, and I wish that all parents would keep an eye on their kids, but until they do I’m going to continue to speak up without feeling bad about doing so.

  • I’ve got to say, as much as I hate the fact our govt stole land from existing private interests to build Nationals Park for the Lerner family, finally, we’ve got a movement toward world class baseball facilities in DC.

    Now, if we could just get a working demonstration farm, sawmill, and biofuels refinery, we’d be cooking with gas.

    Dog poop on school playgrounds is gross, but a fact of life. Thug and idiot graffiti too. And the child-controlled militarized zones in SE.

  • Hi all

    I am a volunteer and president of the Friends of 16th Street Heights Parks working to support and improve Hamilton and Upshur Parks.

    The new Upshur Playground is an amazing transformation. DPR worked for over a year with the community at large and the friends group to gather input and design and build a playground that the community asked for.

    There was community input and comment every step of the way. I for one am a proud parent in our neighborhood who is loving the playground and park everyday. Come on out and check it out. It is a fabulous playful playground!

    • Sounds like DPR should have actually sought out the best practices from other municipalities, rather than simply asking some random parents what they wanted.

    • Thanks for the awesome playground. Was there today with four other kids and had a fabulous time. Ignore the haters on this board. It’s a terrific space and the community deserves it. Congratulations!

  • I’ve brought my 2.5 year old and almost 1 year old to the park and we all had a great time! Thank you to the locals who worked long and hard to make the new park happen. My little guy loves the sandbox and running up and down the hills (and gasp — without injury!).

    My complaint is not with the structure/design at all, but rather with the large groups of school kids during the day — it can be a bit overwhelming for the wee ones. But that is true of the Petworth Playground as well. (Hell, even Turtle Park can be overrun with daycare/preschool groups.)

    • There were some really ill behaved kids at Turtle Park during DCPS spring break, they slightly older kids who were part of a spring break camp. Based on the extremely lax supervision I witnessed, there’s no way in hell I’d send my preschooler to a rec center camp there. Kids were throwing sand in each others faces, one group made off to the grass hill (way on the other side of the baseball field like 100 yards from the playground) and were riding/destroying ride on toys by riding them down the hill…took about 10 minutes for someone to notice.

  • Anon has it exactly right, the gravel interspersed with the rubberized surface is a disaster. The park looks a mess days after its opening. I can’t even figure out why it it there, it looks like its only purpose is aesthetic.
    It has to go, hopefully the city will come in and make adjustments.

    I won’t even start in on the playground equipment itself. Whatever happened to real slides and monkey bars. While I don’t have the same hang ups about my kids playing in the sand area, it does need some type of lip so that the sand stays in the designated area. And the sand needs to be thicker, it’s already thinning out.

    For a real playground, look at francis stevens education campus. If you want to see one of the “new age” playgrounds that’s at least done well, look at Hearst Elementary. Even P and 17th, another “new age” playground, is done well.

    I appreciate the effort by the city, I really do. But it’s not a great park. It’s frustrating that projects taken up East of the park don’t get that same type of attention to detail and consideration that projects in Wards 2 and 3. do.

  • The park is suh-weeet and my 15-month old loves it. Every time we’ve been in the last couple of weeks, it’s been family-ville with lots of parents. The gravel is weird but I’m sure they’ll fix that along with a lip for the sandbox. It’s hard finding outdoor play space for the under-two crowd and, judging by the number of tots and infants I keep seeing there, there’s critical mass to enjoy it.

    Kudos to the Friends of 16th Street Heights and Upshur Parks.

  • I love the park, it needs more shade, and I hate hate hate the new age playground equipment, I am a big fan of old fashioned tower/slide/pirate bridge type structures. But the park is definitely less depressing now.

    • Why is it that I have pay thousands of dollars in taxes for playgrounds and schools, but if you city spends a small amount of money on a dog park (something I can use), there is a huge uproar.

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