“It’s time to put the house on the market,” and other such grumblings could be heard in the audience as Department of Parks and Recreation Landscape Architect Peter Nohrden presented the final scope of work for the Hearst Park renovation and pool construction at a Ward 3 meeting on May 7th, 2019.
Despite earlier vocal opposition, and new mutterings under breath, the pool is happening, and most residents in attendance were cautiously optimistic.
“We need this,” said one neighbor, explaining that Volta was overcrowded. “Yeah, it is. And we will be, too,” came her neighbor’s rebuttal.
ANC 3F Commissioner David Dickinson, DGS Community & Outreach contact Wayne Gore, and a representative of the Blue Sky Construction Company, which will be performing the work, were also on hand to field questions regarding the project, which includes changes to some of the playground pieces; putting in a newly graded soccer field that complies with FIFA standards; adding an ADA trail for exercise around the park; adding benches and bicycle parking; employing new biofiltration areas; repaving two tennis courts; planting over 100 trees; upgrading site furnishings; and constructing a new six lane, 6-foot deep outdoor pool and pool house.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Michele Bond, a 60 year resident of the neighborhood, who currently goes to the Wilson Aquatics Center to swim. “Plus, it’s going to be for all of the kids in the neighborhood, not just the ones who need a Club.”
The pool will, like all DC public pools, have 11am – 8pm hours, Monday – Saturday, with one day closed for maintenance. It is projected to have an occupancy in the pool area of 200, by standard fire code measurements. To add the pool, Hearst park will lose one of its three tennis courts.
Community members in attendance spoke up to ask for more bike racks, more trash and
recycling receptacles near the playground, and for specifics concerning the preservation of heritage trees on the property. There was also some concern as to where soccer spectators would sit, given the widening of the field and additional plantings. Construction headaches were most frequently mentioned.
“We need specific start and end times,” said one resident, while another asked that Blue Sky “just be considerate of the timing of summer camp pick up and drop off in regards to the construction trucks,” and another voiced that traffic concerns won’t go away after construction.
“We’re losing parking spaces, but gaining people who want to park in the neighborhood.”
While the playground is projected be closed for just one month over the summer, the soccer field construction will start June 3rd, with a projected end date in December 2019. The pool, on the other hand, will start construction July 1, 2019, with a construction finish date in January 2020 and a planned opening weekend on Memorial Day 2020.
Eaton Elementary School, nearby, will also be undergoing a project at this time, so both soccer fields in the area will be out of commission in tandem, which was also troubling to area residents whose children use those fields.
“I jogged that field to make the Olympic team,” Hall of Famer Len Oliver said, on hand to register his concern over the soccer field’s size. Not built to international standards, yet still to FIFA adult standards at 100 x 62, the half back joined those asking for thoughtful planning of the property.
“Once this is done, DPR and DPS will be sorely underfunded to maintain this, both with time and with money, so it is shortsighted not to have a better structure for maintenance,” said Jennifer Gutman, Director of Stoddert Soccer, which, she claims takes it upon themselves to do much of the field maintenance to DC’s public soccer fields. “Invest not just in building, but in making it a useable space.”