Dear PoPville – More Condos Are Great, But What About Parks?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ep_jhu

“Dear PoPville,

With the rapid pace of development in DC (new condos, restaurants, retail), I am concerned that there is little new parks and recreation development happening in the city. Although greater residential density and retail are great, DC is a special place to me in that most city dwellers have parkspace relatively close by. With its growing population, DC needs to resist the short-sighted temptation to view all land as sources of revenue and realize that while condos and restaurants come and go, great urban spaces are permanently defined by how well they cherish public land. After all, Rock Creek Park has outlived many a fad, and it is still, if not more, amazing than it was at its founding in 1890.”

Ed. Note: In Sept. 2012 Mayor Gray “dedicated $490,000 for the design and development of NoMa parks”. I’d also mention the addition of the phenomenal Yards Park in Navy Yard and the massive renovation of the Georgetown Waterfront park. You can also learn about DC DPR park renovations here and here.

26 Comment

  • andy

    Well, there’s this great park over at Mt. Vernon Square, right near 2nd and Mass NW. A good amount of outdoor activities going on – barbecues pretty frequently as well as a lot of people just relaxing. I think it might be the kind of place you’re looking for.

  • Sounds like someone from the soi-disant “Friends” of McMillan “Park” trying to agitate again, against DC’s better interests. Build it.

    “Park” in that case is code for “traffic sewers from Maryland.”

  • As far as park area versus development, D.C. is one of the greenest capital cities in the world. Rock creek is a 1/3rd of the city; you have the mall; you have haines point, you have hundreds of midsize and pocket parks throughout the city. Even the Waterfront Parks are coming back. While not every park is perfect, there’s been a huge commitment to green space. Not sure what this person is complaining about…

  • Well, 90% of the parkland in DC is owned and operated by the National Park service. The other 10% is rarely developed into housing.

    Much of the new development going up in DC is on top of abandoned lots or converted property, not parkland.

  • Rock Creek Park is actually 2820 acres or 7.1% of the land area of the city, not 33% (1/3).

  • Amen, I read this, said “Friends of McMillan” and rolled my eyes. And I live across the street from McMillan.

  • Some pretty spectacular new parks have been built lately, down in the Navy Yard area.

  • Rents are skyrocketing and housing is scarce. We have tons of parks. We need more places to live.

  • Original Poster Here,

    While a decent park would be great there, I was not even thinking of the McMillan site. Rather, my concern is more about residential areas like Logan, Shaw, Dupont, and Columbia Heights. Originally, these neighborhoods were relatively low-rise residential areas and yet urban planners of yesteryear saw fit to establish a lot of parkspace in these areas. But now, each passing day brings news of plans for a new 150+ unit building in these areas. I’m glad to see this happening, but I have concerns that the pools, courts, fields in these neighborhoods will soon be insufficient to meet the demand.

    As for me, I would have liked to see the O Street Market location be developed into an aquatic center like Wilson with tennis, basketball and ball fields. But I can’t imagine the city ever even considering acquiring a decent sized tract of land for this purpose.

  • I’d like to see another 50 meter outdoor lap pool like Hains Pt, which is ridiculously overcrowded

  • The Bruce-Monroe park at Irving and Georgia, while technically temporary, is a sizeable space that was done two or three years ago. It’s no jewel, but I think it was a solid addition to that neighborhood.

  • As it is, we have plenty of parkland, vastly underused. Try visiting the National Arboretum, or National Mall, or Rock Creek, or Kennilworth Park, or . . . or . . . or just look at a map.

    What’s the real motivation here? Come clean! Someone’s playing dumb.

  • The Arboretum is not an under used park – it’s an arboretum. It maybe sadly under visited, but not under used.

  • Which development took park space being away from shaw/logan/dupont/Columbia Heights?

  • “Rather, my concern is more about residential areas like Logan, Shaw, Dupont, and Columbia Heights.”

    I live in CH and have never found parks to be an issue. Meridian Hill park is close by and I play soccer at Cardozo and Tubman, both of which have nice turf fields. The rear entrance to the National Zoo is around a 20 minute walk or 5 minute bike ride. Like everyone else says, my primary concern is the high cost of living so please keep building more housing supply! The increased choice in restaurants is a nice trend as well.

  • The current proposal at McMillan has a community center which is supposed to have a pool. Not sure about any sports fields or courts, but the entire southern portion will be a park.

  • I guess I have different perspective – every neighborhood can’t offer everything. You don’t move to Shepherd Park or Chevy Chase and complain about the lack of nightlife or move to Chinatown and complain about noise or tourists. IMO DC has done better than ok with parks. In Brookland they just completed Noyes Park on Franklin Street. They are rehabbing Turkey Thicket (again, the fields were just done) In addition to Bruce Monroe on GA Avenue They are working on Banneker right now. It kills me that the neighbors / developers can’t reach some consensus on McMillan, it could be such a great park space AND fill a lot of retail voids in that area.

  • LMAO! This original poster is a bit delusional and just wants to stir the pot.

    I have to agree with all of the comments. When I read the original post, my coworkers and I cracked up laughing

    Not enough parks? DC more than likely has more parks than most major cities in America and has done a phenomenal job with MAINTAINING GREEN SPACE, PLANTING TREES, ENSURING POCKET PARKS and opening lots of new recreation. Everyone already gave several examples. Rock Creek park will NEVER be condos and it takes up a LARGE portion of the city. There is plenty of park space that is underutilized. Lack of park space is NOT the issue here. High prices of EVERYTHING, is.

  • I’m with the OP here. I live in Shaw and it’s two miles to any sizable park, meaning one cannot just go for a stroll. And judging from the aggressive response above, I am not the only one who would benefit from some relaxing time spent in nature.

    I heard that Soldier’s Home was originally planned as a public park, which would have provided some relief to a large portion of the city, as might reopening the southern gate to the Arboretum. One other idea may be expanding the medians of the larger avenues to provide an area for strolling.

    But those are just my ideas. If you have some, it looks like the city is taking them here: and there is a group active here:

  • Rock Creek Park is pretty useless to most of the city’s residents. It’s almost completely inaccessible by foot. It is not a good park for families living in the city who want a safe green space. I live in NW and I feel that there is no nice, quiet(er) place to take my children to run around or have a picnic. It is, unfortunately, one of the reasons we are thinking about moving to another city.

    I think about London, Paris, Boston, or Dublin and all the green space that you can walk through right in the center of the city. I think a park like that (Boston Common, Hyde Park, etc.) would significantly improve the quality of life of residents.

  • Ha! There’s this place that starts with an N….ends with ational Mall.

  • Sounds like a lot of people haven’t waited over an hour at Banneker to play tennis as I regualrly do. More tennis courts, please.

  • The National Mall is an interesting example for a park. The federal government is spending millions of dollars to rehab the park because it has been loved to death from over use. The city is spending millions of dollars in NoMa to give residents a park because there are none in the area. Rock Creek is great for the people who live nearby, but if it takes me an hour to walk there, it isn’t very usewful. If DC wants to increase population and get people to give up their cars, they will need more parks. People in DC use cemetaries as parks because there are no other sizable parks to go to in certain parts of the city. Speaking of McMillian, why is the city spending money to destroy the historic structures and give that land to developers so that they can build office buildings? McMillian was part of the planned park system for the city and designed by Olmstead. It should remain a park.

  • If you care about recreational facilities, please remind the folks at DCPS that the new Dunbar High School in Shaw will have a good swimming pool, in a separate, lower floor of the building, with easy, secure public access. It was always understood that the pool would be open to the public outside of school hours. Now with the building set to open, rumour has it the principal is thinking of reneging on that uh, principle.

  • The grounds of the Soldiers’ Home used to be open to the public, but were closed off in 1968 after the riots.

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