By: Imani LaTortue
WASHINGTON – Residents of Ward 3 will soon see the local Hearst Park undergo construction toward new developments, most notably a new pool, because Ward 3 is the only ward in the city without an outdoor pool. While many look forward to the future aspects of the recreational site, not everyone is ready for this new splash in the neighborhood.
One group, Neighbors For Hearst Park, is comprised of a few Ward 3 residents who live in close proximity to the park. They are troubled with what they feel as a lack of transparency on behalf of the city. In their mission statement they call on local leaders, including Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, “to ensure that any renovations to Hearst Park are done only after appropriate study, true community input, and in compliance with the city’s own plans, procedures, and regulations.”
However, there are still some who have a generally positive outlook on the upcoming construction. Friends of Hearst Pool is a group of Ward 3 residents who have established themselves in support of the pool. They aim to make their platform a “forum to facilitate neighborhood input in the design process.”
“I think that the pool will be a great for the community,” said D.C. resident Shaquanta Stacey. “It’s great for kids to have something to do during the summer too.”
Located at 37th and Quebec Streets in Northwest D.C., Hearst Park will undergo a two-phase project conducted on behalf of the partnership between D.C.’s Department of General Services (DGS) and the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The first phase, which has funding of $8 million from fiscal years 2015 to 2017, will deal with park renovations. The pool will break ground in fiscal year 2019 with a budget of $5 million.
According to the D.C. Department of General Services, this design and construction will also include a new playground area, tennis courts, the renovation or, if necessary, the replacement of existing soccer fields, as well as a pool and pool house. The city also plans to address vital environmental parts of the site. Storm-water management, erosion issues, landscaping, fencing, and a host of other components are key to sustaining the longevity of the park.
Hydrology is a major concern regarding the park. In the past, there have been issues with storm-water runoff harming not only the park, but also some homes and nearby Hearst Elementary School. This runoff was due to drains continuously being clogged. However, engineers involved with the project plan to focus on mitigating those problems.
Another problem for some residents was the preservation of the Heritage trees in the park. The city implements that any tree greater than 100 inches in circumference is a Heritage Tree and cannot be removed. The District Department of Transportation has strict guidelines for the handling and care of trees during construction projects in D.C. Any site found in violation of these regulations can face fines and can even be required to replant the trees. As a result, the Urban Forestry Administration’s arborists said that the pool’s most suitable location is the southern portion of the park.
During a September ANC 3F meeting, DPR Project Manager Peter Norhden spoke with Ward 3 commissioners and residents about their concerns and aimed to be transparent about the city’s plans for the pool. He mentioned many aspects and upgrades to the park and upcoming pool, including new bathrooms, construction procedures, as well as, traffic and noise management.