Washington, DC-Since he was sworn into office in January 2007 and assumed the chairmanship of the Council’s Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, Councilmember Harry “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. has ensured that Ward 5 recreation facilities and parks receive their fair share of capital improvements.
Funds for capital projects are allocated each year as part of the city’s fiscal budget, as well as by reprogramming requests that shift funds among projects during the year. The vast majority of funds for parks and recreation capital projects are part of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s capital budget, but some are included in the capital budgets of other agencies. Consequently, identifying and tracking expenditures for Ward 5 parks and recreation projects is not a straightforward exercise.
When Thomas took office, several Ward 5 recreation centers had been recently replaced, including Turkey Thicket, North Michigan Park, Trinidad and Brentwood. Many others, however, were in need of replacement or significant upgrading, including Joseph Cole, Harry Thomas, Sr., Edgewood, and Langdon Park. Ward 5 also has a large number of unimproved pocket parks for which Thomas has made funding a priority. The grid below summarizes the parks and recreation capital improvements planned for, underway, or completed in Ward 5 since Thomas took office.
Highlights of work completed to-date at Ward 5 recreation centers and playgrounds include:
• $8 million replacement of Joseph Cole Recreation Center completed in August 2010, with playground and park upgrades to be completed in the fall.
• $2 million interior and exterior upgrades to Harry Thomas, Sr. Recreation Center completed in March 2010.
• $500,000 interior and exterior upgrades to Edgewood Recreation Center completed in May 2010.
• $500,000 new playground at Arboretum Recreation Center completed in April 2010.
• $600,000 renovation of North Michigan Park Recreation Center completed in March 2010 to convert excess bathrooms to community room.
Work underway includes:
• Renovation of park at First Street and Florida Avenue, NW to increase visibility. The budget is $1.2 million.
• Upgrade of park at Michigan Avenue and Varnum Street, NE. The budget is $250,000.
• Creation of passive park at site of former Gage-Eckington Elementary School, located on Ward 1-Ward 5 border. Budget is $1.5 million.
The FY2011 budget includes the following new projects in Ward 5:
• New park amenities at Dakota Playground. FY11 budget is $500,000.
• New park amenities at Noyes Field. FY11 budget is $1 million.
• Replacement of Edgewood Recreation Center. Total project cost is $14 million, with $6.5 million in FY11 budget and $2.5 million in FY12 budget.
“Ensuring that Ward 5 recreation facilities and parks receive their fair share of capital improvements is a priority for me,” said Councilmember Thomas. “Through my oversight as Chair of the Council’s Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation, I have been able to make a difference and bring resources to Ward 5.”