Florida Avenue Park mention on article regarding renovation of Noyes Park.
On March 29, Ward 5 community members met with District officials at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center to finalize designs for the partial renovation of Noyes Park. Located at the corner of 10th and Franklin Street NE, Noyes Park consists of 45,000 square feet of undeveloped land.
The March 29 meeting was the fourth and final public meeting held by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the Department of General Services (DGS) to discuss park plans.
According to Jackie Stanley, DGS Community Outreach Specialist, $1 million has been allocated for Noyes Park improvements.
Ms. Stanley cautioned residents that $1 million was insufficient to fully renovate the park. She said an additional $500,000 was needed to build an “ideal” park at that location. “There are a lot of things we could do if we had [more] money,” said Ms. Stanley.
Ms. Stanley said DPR would work within the $1 million budget by excluding 5,000 square feet from the planned improvements. The land would be improved at a future date only if additional funding was obtained.
John McGaw, Director of the Mayor’s Capital Improvements Program, said in April that Mayor Vincent Gray had no plans to add money to the budget for Noyes Park. Informed of Ms. Stanley’s statement that an additional $500,000 was needed, Mr. McGaw said: “I have not had that need expressed to me by DPR.” He said he would look into the matter.
Contacted one month later, Mr. McGaw said that funding for Noyes Park was “not a matter I’ve looked into.”
DPR Director Jesus Aguirre said his department does not decide how much money each project gets. “The budget process is out of our control,” he said, adding that budget decisions are made by the D.C. Council and the Mayor. Mr. Aguirre said the budget process is based on “competing interests” for money.
Mr. Aguirre refuted Ms. Stanley’s claim that more money was required for Noyes Park renovations. “We did not request any additional funds for this project because we believe the budget is sufficient for the scope of work that we believe is appropriate for the site,” he said.
DPR unveiled the park design to community members on March 29.
DPR landscape architect Brent Sisco said the undeveloped part of the park will be called a “community garden.” He said the garden will have to be managed by the community and not by DPR.
Based on community feedback at the March 29 meeting, the community garden will consist of four rectangular areas in which 20 residents can grow vegetables. Part of the unimproved area will consist of open space with a grill.
The renovated portion of the park will include a 2,500 square foot children’s playground with a rubber surface that Mr. Sisco described as the “safest surface” available on the market. The playground will have built-in shade structures.
An adult exercise area with five pieces of fitness equipment will be located adjacent to the playground. A 10 x 30 foot pavilion will be located nearby. There will be picnic tables, game tables and benches.
An artificial turf field will be located in the middle of the park, around which a figure-8 pathway will wind. According to Mr. Sisco, the path was a “big request from the community.” Shrubs and shade trees will be planted around the edge of the park.
Mr. Sisco said the park design does not include any natural grass. The lack of natural grass was one of the major concerns expressed by those attending the meeting. Ms. Stanley said that artificial grass lasts longer than natural grass and that the District does not have enough money to maintain natural grass.
Natural grass “more exemplifies what people consider a park,” said Tom Bridge of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association. In response to the community’s strong desire for more natural grass, DPR promised to include natural grass in the park where possible.
Obtaining sufficient funding for neighborhood parks is a challenge for Ward 5 residents. Geovani Bonilla, president of the Bates Area Civic Association, said it was “about a three year process” to obtain funding for the Florida Avenue Park located at 1st Street and Florida Avenue NW.
In February, Mayor Vincent Gray cut the ribbon on a $1.7 million renovation of the Florida Avenue Park. The Florida Avenue Park is about half the size of Noyes Park.
Mr. Bonilla said the Florida Avenue Park renovations were funded by the city because the Bates area neighborhood “came together.” He pointed out that before the community held any meetings with government officials, it had a list of detailed demands for the park. “We had already done a lot of the preliminary work,” Mr. Bonilla said.
DGS spokesman Darrell Pressley said there was no estimated start date for the Noyes Park renovations.
—with reporting by Abigail Padou