The conversation about renovating Hearst Park has been dominated by the District’s plans to build Ward 3’s first outdoor pool on park grounds. But the upcoming renovation will impact the entire park.
Hearst Park is located at 37th and Quebec Streets, next to Hearst Elementary School. Its renovation is a two-phase project of the DC Department of General Services (DGS) in partnership with the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The first phase, which has funding through fiscal year 2018, is to renovate the park area. This has been overshadowed by debate over the second phase, the building of the swimming pool, to begin in 2019.
When DPR Project Manager Peter Nohrden updated the community at the September 19 ANC 3F meeting (his portion of the livestream begins at one hour, 20 minutes) he did touch on the pool, saying that the Urban Forestry Administration’s arborist report said the only place that a pool is recommended is the most southern portion of the park, where the tennis courts are currently located.
Norden also said arborists from DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration, and independent arborists hired by DGS by the Cleveland Park community have sent their tree impact assessment reports to DGS. (The arborist hired by Cleveland Park, Harry Martin with Pitchford Associates, concluded that all pool options would cause harm to the trees at the site, and therefore none are satisfactory.)
Norden mentioned concerns that the focus on the pool in phase two was taking attention from the huge portion of the park that needs improvements. That’s especially important now, as $5 million allotted to the first phase of the park renovation must be spent this fiscal year.
The park’s hydrology is one major issue to be addressed. Norden said there should be no stormwater runoff from the park. But engineers have found that as many as eight of the park’s drains are covered or otherwise clogged. DGS will restore the existing drains in the first phase.
Norden listed other recommendations that came out of a previous September meeting with the Hearst Park community:
ANC Commissioner David Dickinson stressed the need for all agencies involved – DGS, DPR, DDOT and the Department of Energy and the Environment – to brainstorm with the community about preventing stormwater runoff and protecting the trees.
The DGS website for the Hearst Park project has a comprehensive listing of reports, presentations ANC 3F and Cleveland Park Citizen Association resolutions and much more.