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.)