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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Jun 02, 2010
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The National Capital Planning Commission has posted its "staff recommendation" on the final designs for Canal Park, and it's safe to say that they are pleased with what they've seen. They commended the city on its "work toward providing this much-needed public amenity that will undoubtedly support and strengthen the continued revitalization of the Near Southeast neighborhood." It also says that "the park will likely become a highly sought after place for visitors, workers, and residents of this burgeoning mixed use neighborhood" and that the city "has worked diligently to prepare an overall design that is simple, while still providing a wide range of activities and amenities." And, "staff appreciates that while the new park design is distinctive and will likely set a new standard for future parks in the District of Columbia, it does so by acknowledging and building upon the unique historical significance of the site and its surrounding neighborhood."
For those who haven't been following along (and the park has only been in the works for seven years or so, so you've probably saved yourself some grief), Canal Park will stretch from I to M streets SE along the two parts of Second Street. The southern block, across from the US Department of Transportation headquarters, will have a large plaza, a "significant water feature" that will transform into an ice skating rink in winter, and a large two-level pavilion that will be home to a cafe and observation area. The middle block has a rain garden, a children's play area, a small performance stage, and an open lawn. The northern block, the "most pastoral of the three," will have a large open lawn, and the slight grade of the block as it slopes upward toward I Street has allowed the designers to envision this as an informal amphitheater, for events like summer movie nights and whatnot. There is also a "linear rain garden" that runs along the eastern edge of the park's three blocks. (Note that K and L streets will still be open to traffic, though there will be well-marked crosswalks.)
The staff recommendation document is 18 pages, but if you have any interest in the plans for the park, you need to read all of it. Lots and lots of updated renderings, detailed explanations of the park's features and amenities (including its sustainable design), first peeks at the sculptures that will be installed, and how the park will work with its surroundings are all included.
Serious Canal Park groupies may also be interested in what the Commission of Fine Arts had to say about the designs when it reviewed them at their April 15 meeting (scroll down to section G). They approved the designs as well, though some CFA commissioners expressed a few concerns about the many plans for activities and "programming." The minutes characterize thoughts from commissioner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk thusly, that the "park embodies the notion that people need a constant stream of entertainment, a concept related to retail marketing and Disney parks that has become part of our modern culture. She said that the proposal could be accepted within this context, but the commitment of the sponsoring organizations to care for it must be clear." (The park is owned by the city, but the Canal Park Development Association has been created to oversee the park, and the Capitol Riverfront BID will be handling much of the upkeep and scheduling.)
I haven't heard any recent updates on a construction schedule, so I'll just lean on my last post on the subject; it's expected that infrastructure work around the park will begin this summer, with construction on the park itself starting in the fall and lasting a year or so. Hopefully by then I can get my Canal Park project page updated with all the new details.
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With many thanks to reader S. for doing all of the legwork on this, I'm passing along the news that neglected the three-foot deep pool on L Street SE between Fifth and Seventh (between Van Ness Elementary and the parking lot that was once Old Capper Seniors) has been renovated, and is now open as the Lincoln Capper Children's Pool. The DC Parks and Recreation web site has the hours, which are noon to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays until June 20, and then 11 am to 5 pm Mondays through Fridays from June 21 through August 20. It may not be as swinging as the scene at the Capitol Skyline Pool, but for parents looking to dunk their children (I mean, get their children some swim time), it's a nice addition to the neighborhood tableau.
 




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