By SAMUEL BRESLOW
The DC Line
When Pierre Charles L’Enfant drew diagonal boulevards cutting throughout his grid plan for DC in 1791, he created hundreds of tiny triangular parks in the leftover spaces near intersections. Ever since, many of these have remained unadorned patches of grass, but as rapid development makes recreational space increasingly valuable, park planners are now looking to put them to better use.
Mayor Muriel Bowser and officials from the DC Department of Parks and Recreation cut the ribbon on the city’s first meditation garden June 24 in Petworth. The agency hopes to use the project at the intersection of Kansas Avenue, 13th Street and Quincy Street NW as a model for revitalizing other underused green spaces.
The new park, occupying less than half an acre, includes a circular ring of benches, greenery and a lawn. There is also a drinking fountain for both people and pets. The paths are wheelchair accessible and, as a result of community input, water permeable to reduce runoff.
The Department of Parks and Recreation’s initial programming for the Petworth Meditation Garden features free yoga sessions in the park every Monday at 6:30 a.m.
“We grow about 800 to 1,000 people a month in Washington, DC, and people are moving into smaller, smaller spaces, so they need more and more recreation space,” Bowser said in a brief speech.
“Everything that we can to do in this city to provide great parks, great libraries, great playgrounds, helps make our city more attractive and affordable for people of all ages and abilities.”
The renovations cost $350,000, according to parks department director Keith Anderson. He said that price tag was typical for a project of the park’s scale and “a very strategic investment for the community.”
“We heard from our constituents that they want somewhere to go outside where they don’t necessarily hear basketballs and a whole lot of noise,” Anderson said. “Mental health is just as important as physical health.”
Ward 4 Council member Brandon Todd also attended the ceremony. He returned to the park July 2 to participate in the second Monday morning yoga session.
“This is a fantastic example of government and community working together hand in hand to reimagine a space,” he said in his speech.
Petworth resident Mary Swanson was enthusiastic to have a park with yoga so close to her home.
“It’s easy to jump out of bed and get to a place that’s only two minutes away,” she said.
Aichida Ul-Aflaha, who brought her friend’s dog Chocho to the ceremony, said she hopes the park will help bring people together in the ethnically diverse neighborhood.
“It’s just nice to have a place to gather,” she said. “I do hope there is a sense of ownership in the community so it’s well-maintained not just by the city but by those who live around it.”
A parks department official said the agency plans to undertake similar renovations at other small parks around the city going forward.
“We’re hoping that this will be the first of many ways to activate these small spaces,” he said. “Every little green space is extremely valuable now.”
This article also appears on the new local news website thedcline.org.