Letter to the Editor: Hearst Park shouldn’t be Ward 3 pool site by default

Plans for a pool at Hearst Park have sparked debate in the community. (Brian Kapur/The Current/March 2017)

Efforts to build a public outdoor pool in Ward 3 for summer family recreation have been ongoing for years. Neighbors in every location that has been suggested have successfully resisted having this pool built in their community.

Now we’re down to one last little piece of ground: Hearst Field at Quebec Street between Idaho Avenue and 37th Street NW has become the focal point by default because every other proposed site has met with well-organized resistance. Hearst Field, which is already overcrowded with various types of recreational facilities, is simply too small to have one more thing added to it.

For over 60 years, it has been the city’s only designated soccer-specific field. Other fields are designated for football, baseball and softball. These are regulation-size fields at which competitive games can be scheduled. Tennis courts, a children’s playground and a field house make up the rest of Hearst Park. Because of the sharply sloping topography from a high ridge at 37th Street down to street level within just one block to Idaho Avenue, storm drainage leaves much to be desired. I have watched many soccer games turn into a muddy mess the day after it rained.

The entire area is encircled by a row of huge willow oaks that are 2 to 3 feet in diameter. These trees would be a tragic sacrifice just to shoehorn a pool into this busy recreational area.

Recently the supporters of the pool have suggested replacing one tennis court with the pool. The tennis courts are under those heritage oaks, making it a great place to play tennis but hardly ideal for a pool that should be out in the bright sun. If a pool no bigger than a tennis court will meet the needs of the proponents of the pool, they should join the Cleveland Park Club Pool or put a pool in one of their own backyards. Would a pool no bigger than a tennis court be large enough to serve the rest of Ward 3? And where would all those eager swimmers park?

Just because every other community successfully resisted this pool is no reason that it must be put in the last remaining, least hospitable space in Northwest D.C.

Eleanor Oliver, Cleveland Park