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The weather gods smiled on the Southeast Waterfront today, with an absolutely picture-perfect day for inviting scads of dignitaries down to the Yards Park to make some speeches and cut a ribbon. Here's my quick photo gallery of the event, with photos not only of politicians wielding scissors but also plenty of shots of the park itself. I will soon update my Yards Park page with real before-and-afters, but that will take some time.
The 5.5-acre park, a $42 million partnership between the city, the feds (who owned the land until this morning), and the BID (which will be responsible for the upkeep and programming), is very simply like nothing else anywhere in DC. It not only has the pedestrian bridge and the light tower and the water features to gawk at, but it has so many different spaces for strolling, sitting, hanging out, playing, or just staring at the river, with its views all the way down to the Potomac River and further to Alexandria. There were many references during the remarks to Chicago's Millenium Park, and all involved with the creation of the Yards Park clearly see its potential as a "destination" attraction. The BID will be working hard to provide a lot of activities to draw people in, and down the road (if the reality ends up matching the vision), when the Lumber Shed becomes a retail-and-restaurant spot with river views, and the Foundry Lofts and Boilermaker Shops just to the north of the park open and become attractions in their own right, this could be quite a jewel in the city's crown.
Add to that the eventual building of a floating boardwalk that will connect the Yards Park to Diamond Teague Park by the baseball stadium, making it an easy stroll along the river to go back and forth between the two venues, and you can start to imagine the fans streaming out of the ballpark on Friday nights to watch the post-game fireworks firing off above the Anacostia River from the Great Lawn or the boardwalk. (I'm told that the boardwalk is in the design stages, though there's no timeline for when it might be built.)
As for the area east of the park, I'm hearing that there is "progress" in working with the Navy Yard to open its boardwalk (that leads to the Display Ship Barry and 11th Street), but again, no timeline on that.
There was a lot of media present today (especially since both Mayor Fenty and Vince Gray were in attendance), so I'll update this post with whatever stories appear. UPDATE: Here's the press release from the mayor's office. Also there's ABC7's report, which also is about today's other Anacostia River event, where council members (but not Mayor Fenty) showed up to sign a pledge to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up six designated toxic sites along the Anacostia, which include in Near Southeast the Navy Yard, the Yards/Southeast Federal Center, the Washington Gas site east of 11th (more on that from Fox 5, including that the Anacostia Riverkeeper and Anacostia Watershed Society groups are concerned that monies from the city's tax on plastic bags are so far not being directed toward cleaning up the river).
Also, it sounds like the fences at the park will be closed again for the next few days while they get some finishing touches done (the eastern end of the park is still being worked on), but it will then have its Grand Opening Weekend starting Friday at 3:30 pm. And then I can get some nighttime photos, because apparently the park's lighting is something to be seen.
(I've also gotten--and forwarded along--some e-mails from residents grousing about what they see as the less-than-adequate size of the dog park on the park's western edge; I've asked Forest City for more information about the current and future plans for the dog park, and will post about it when I hear back.)
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natalie says: (9/7/10 3:13 PM)
Anyone know what the lumber shed project is?


Alan says: (9/7/10 3:24 PM)
Stunning. Can't wait to see it myself.


Jen says: (9/7/10 3:25 PM)
How exciting! We were among the many neighborhood residents checking out the park on Sunday evening. It is such a fantastic space, and what a huge step forward for the area! Every aspect of it seems incredibly well done. It was great to see so many couples, strollers, dogs, and happy people enjoying the park--I am definitely looking forward to the official festivities this weekend!


JD but not that JD says: (9/7/10 3:28 PM)
Hey JD, any idea where the rumored dog park/run would be oriented in the park? Or is that no longer a part of the plan? Just curious. Thanks for these great pictures!!!


JD says: (9/7/10 3:36 PM)
Yes, the dog park (currently very small) is on the far western edge, along the fence with DC WASA. If you look at the rendering on my Yards Park page, you can see it at far left.


JD says: (9/7/10 3:38 PM)
Natalie, the Lumber Shed project will be the reuse of the currently de-skinned two-story building in the center of the park--it will be given glass walls and will become retail and restaurant space on the ground floor. Will probably happen in the next few years. See renderings on my Yards Park page: link


Jay says: (9/7/10 6:15 PM)
I'm going to try and make it Friday afternoon.

I wrote down 3 pm on my calender, but see 3:30 now.

What time shall the early bird arrive?

Looks beautiful, thanks JD! I know this has special meaning to you because you've talked about this spot before, a place that didn't exactly invite one in to.


Dan says: (9/7/10 6:39 PM)
I can't help but thinking after reading about how the new park will drive development that it's all a bit like SimCity. Plant a park down in a neighborhood and watch it all develop! Perhaps SimCity is providing the secret Master Plan for development in DC!


JD says: (9/7/10 7:06 PM)
Hi Jay--I'm going to write a bit about my feelings about the Yards Park after the grand opening. While I do generally try to not pick favorites amongst the projects in the neighborhood, I don't think people would have to look real hard to figure out that I've had a soft spot for this park from the beginning.

[I also used to say to myself that once the Yards Park was done, it might be the time for me to sign off from blogging. Hmmmm. :-) ]



JD but not that JD says: (9/8/10 10:10 AM)
JD, you can't stop blogging! You're a neighborhood institution at this point...your site is invaluable. And thanks for clearing up about the dog park, now that Canal Park is underway it will be nice to have a new place to run our Lab



Misplaced says: (9/8/10 10:30 AM)
I really hope that the BID does a good job in maintaining this park, especially if they decide to extend the size of the dog park. The amount of dog owners in this neighborhood that don't clean up after their dogs is quite disgusting and it would really sadden me to see the park turn into what other areas of the neighborhood look like.

This is coming from a former dog owner in my younger days and an innocent bystander who's had some unfortunate stepping in incidents here in the Near SE.


Jay says: (9/8/10 11:39 AM)
Please don't leave us JD!

I mean, one has to look no further than yesterday. No one covered the lid lifting on Yards Park better than you.

And there's lots of stuff still to come, MLB All-Star Game in 2015 or so!



JD says: (9/8/10 12:17 PM)
Jay--2015? Ow, my head hurts! :-)


Will says: (9/8/10 12:52 PM)
May I second Jay's comments? Not blogging is not an option. In short - we need you. And, as always, great write-up on the park.

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