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A few days ago, WBJ reported Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos saying that Canal Park "will move forward" in June. With the previous comments on the park's timeline indicating a September start of construction, my curiosity was piqued, so I contacted the park association's executive director, Chris Vanarsdale, to find out the latest. To wit:
At this point, work is continuing on the design documentation, which is expected to be completed in June, and it's still expected that construction on the park itself will begin in September. However, the plans now also include $1.5 million of infrastructure work beneath Second Place (the road that runs on the eastern side of the park), which will be paid for out of the $29 million in Capper bonds that are hitting the market this week. (This wouldn't appear to be any sort of evil cost-shuffling by the city, since Second Place runs along blocks that will eventually house three Capper apartment buildings and WC Smith's 250 M Street office building that is also technically part of Capper's Hope VI redevelopment.)
The work on the utilities below Second Place, which are apparently quite a mess, will also allow the park to install stormwater management infrastructure to be in place for when the new apartment buildings are constructed, so that the park can capture water from those buildings' roofs to be used in the park for irrigation, fountain water, and whatnot. And, if there's any money left over after the infrastructure work, there's now streetscape designs for the east side of Second Place that complement the park's design, which would extend the "feel" of the park across the street.
It's this infrastructure work that will begin this summer, prior to the actual start of work on the park itself. The hope is to have a groundbreaking ceremony in July, though at this point all timeline forecasts are subject to the completion of the permitting process for construction, and we know how THAT can sometimes go. This also assumes that there aren't any (more) big surprises lurking beneath Second Place in terms of the existing water, sewer, and other utility lines.
The park's opening date is still pegged at fall 2011, since the work on the park itself is expected to take between 12 and 14 months. The design is still pretty much the one that we've been seeing for a while--there are a few renderings on my Canal Park page, and you can also visit the official park web site for more details.
Comments (20)
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Michael Letschin says: (3/25/10 10:30 AM)
It still amazes after all this time and the clear use of the space now as a unofficial dog park that the city has not stopped themselves or the architects for that matter and realized that some of the space should be reserved for a dog park. After sitting through the neighborhood meeting with Tommy Wells at Tyler School and hearing it takes 5+ years in most cases for money to be raised and a dog park to be put it, it would be really nice if the City took the initiative and used current funding for a neighborhood park to really provide an amenity the neighborhood could use. I am sure most neighbors would applaud someplace for dogs to run and relieve themselves other than the few 5x10 areas throughout the neighborhood.

jill says: (3/25/10 10:37 AM)
While waiting for the construction to begin, tons of area residents have been enjoying the future site of Canal Park by using it as a dog park. It's become a real gathering place and you can find many happy dogs and their owners there every day (particularly at the before-work and after-work times, and on weekends). Wonder if there is any way to encourage them to maintain a part of the space for this kind of use?

jill says: (3/25/10 10:39 AM)
Good timing on your comment, Michael! I wonder what the most effective way to get this on their radar would be.

Are you serious? says: (3/25/10 11:08 AM)
While I deeply respect dog owners and their desire to find a fun place to take their pets, Canal Park to a large extent isn't the place.

As it currently stands, the central dog park block is a mud and urine hole accessible only to those with affection for their pets and others wanting to wear boots. The only other block residents are willing to use for other purposes is the one marked "no dogs allowed" to the south.

I want a multi-use, aesthetically attractive, hip (as I think this will be) wide access park for kids and recreation free from the fear of feces.

There will be plenty of other space for dogs - that is to say every flower bed in the hood that's been deflowered and waterfront park due to open later this year.


forgot to say thank you says: (3/25/10 11:09 AM)
Thanks JD for this update!

No Dog Allowed says: (3/25/10 2:23 PM)
I concur that canal park should not be a destination for dogs. The primary considerations should be for residents, guests, children, etc. who live in the community and want a clean, enjoyable environment.

I like dogs, but this is not the place for them.

Michael says: (3/25/10 2:45 PM)
The dogs don't get there on their own... "Residents" and "people" bring them to the park. This fancy design for Canal Park has "expensive boondoggle" written all over it. Maintenance will, I'm sure, at some point become prohibitively expensive. And, it doesn't even look like there's much space for residents to use when all the park structures are in place... Furthermore, unless K and M Streets are blocked off for pedestrian-only usage, it will likely be a little child that darts out (rather than a dog, when the informal dog park is eliminated) in front of a speeding car!

MJM says: (3/25/10 3:24 PM)
There are three sections to the park - while I have a dog not sure the park would be the place to put a dog park but a dog park like the one near DuPont Circle (17th/S) with artificial turf would be perfect for the section closest to the old Post building.

There was talk of putting a dog park near the Community Garden near (8th/VA) but with the Marines eying every piece of land this side of 395/295 in Near SE - I doubt that park will ever see the light of day (there were issues of putting it in anyway but that would just add to the list of problems).

But anyway, can't wait for the park to finally be built!

Anthony says: (3/25/10 5:01 PM)
Nothing against dogs, but a dog park can be utilized by only owners of dogs while a park can be utilized by the entire neighborhood. If we are going to have that much concrete in the area may as well give everyone a little green area to enjoy.

Ben says: (3/25/10 5:43 PM)
If there is anything Canal Park is not currently short on it is green space. The entire block adjacent to M street has been sodded and, if I am not mistaken, does not allow dogs. Aside from the BID movie nights, I almost never see anyone using that space for anything. On the other hand, I can't remember the last time I walked past the "dog park" portion of the park and found it empty. Nor does that block in any way resemble an area that requires boots to enter.

Canal Park will ultimately not have a dog park, but not for lack of need or want by those in the neighborhood that have demonstrated that they are most likely to use the park. I don't have a dog in this fight (awful pun, I know, but I am leaving it), but it would be nice to see some sort of park made available for those with dogs. It's actually felt like a neighborhood around here since people started gathering with their dogs.

And Anthony, I agree with your point. The design for the park contains too much concrete.

Michael Letschin says: (3/25/10 10:24 PM)
Not surprisingly the dog park has become a point of contention. I dont think anyone, including the dog owners that use the park expect to have a space the size it is now, only that there was a space that was safe to let the dogs get some energy out off leash safely.

According to the neighborhood meeting with Tommy Wells last week the VA ave park is somewhat on hold , although he promises to try to get a temporary park setup.

Obviously I am dog owner but at the same time I would like to see the park be something that can get used by the whole neighborhood not just the dogs. The design as I see it now has too much concrete and too much structure(along with an ice rink, that part i dont understand) I think if they were to have a dog park set with the artificial turf at one end it would save the look and cleanliness of the rest of the park. I am sure everyone would like to walk past and see a beautiful new park in our area

As for waterfront park I think that will be another great addition and would even be fine if there were parts of it that were not open to dogs.

Carey Dougan says: (3/26/10 7:23 AM)
What about Garfield Park? Talk about a huge green space for dogs to run around.

jill says: (3/28/10 4:33 PM)
Agree with Michael - the original point was not that all of Canal Park should be for dogs, but rather that it would be wonderful (and used frequently!) if there were some part of Canal Park where it was fenced and safe to let dogs play together off-leash.

As for Garfield Park, it's not nearly protected enough to allow dogs to play together off-leash. For the safety and enjoyment of the dogs and anyone else who wants to use the park (kids, people who don't like dogs, etc.), dogs should have an area that is separate.

Our neighborhood has already shown how appreciated a dog park would be, just by the fact that so many people use the temporary dog area so frequently. Having a small area for the dogs wouldn't get in the way of people using Canal Park at all - it would just make all residents of the neighborhood feel welcome and allow us all to have a gathering place.

G St says: (3/30/10 4:44 PM)
Leave Garfield Park alone. It's supposed to be designed for = people (i.e., children/ kids).

However, as far as I'm concerned, dogs are free to run around under the SW freeway over there - it may help keep the crime rate down? (As long as Fido doesn't bother the horses next door and leaves the dust, broken glass, highway fumes, and trash alone).

Tanya says: (4/2/10 10:38 PM)
Oh, give me a break people!

Why do dog owners think that everyone else should have to put up with the stench, filth, germs, flies, etc. associated with the urine and fecal matter that these animals produce?

Canal park is going to be a lovely space where families and children, can enjoy a nice paths to walk on, water features to delight in, and CLEAN GREEN grass to sit and romp upon. We DON'T want the dead grass, flies, noise, stink, piles of excrement, puddles of urine soaked mud, and everything associated with YOUR pets.

Why can't there just be something nice for PEOPLE to enjoy - without you wanting to fill it up with CRAP (literally!)?

You want to have pets? The move to the 'burbs and get your own damn yard to mess up. Leave the parks in DC to the PEPOPLE they are meant for. The children (and the adults) deserve a clean space to enjoy a little R&R in.

jg says: (4/3/10 10:46 AM)
Tanya - Telling people to move to the 'burbs because you disagree with something they would like is a lazy, non-constructive statement to make. I could just as easily tell you to move to the 'burbs or stay holed up on your home if you want to avoid pets or . I happen to agree that the Canal Park will not be the best place to have a dog park, but the point is moot, since there will be a dog park in the neighborhood... which, by the way, you will not be required to visit.

Tanya says: (4/6/10 11:29 PM)
jg - My statement is neither lazy or non-constructive. People who want to own animals, are lazy when they CHOOSE to bring animals into their lifestyles that don't allow sufficient space for dogs to be dogs. Why should everyone else who doesn't make such self-centered choices have to put up with the barking and filth? If they want to live in the burbs, the country, on a farm, etc. - and own land that they choose to let dogs dump on, then they should do that - not expect public land to be their pets' toilet and thus be rendered unfit for decent people to enjoy. How in the hell is that constructive? I've owned dogs. I lived in the country at the time. I would never live in this area and own a dog. It is not responsible.

Why on Earth would I want to stay home? I want to go out and enjoy the park that MY TAX DOLLARS are paying for without the germs and stench of these mutts. I want my children to be able to romp in the grass or sit down for picnic without getting covered in dog feces.

I was walking around this park today and even with my MP3 player going at a high volume, I found it hard to concentrate on my audiobook because of the annoying barking. I finally gave up and walked around the DOT building and the stadium instead. By the way: in the couple of laps I did do near the dogs, I saw four of the 8 mutts taking a dump, and not one LAZY pet owner bothered to pick it up and properly dispose of it. NOT A SINGLE ONE. How's that for LAZY?

I don't come to your home and make noise, attract bugs, take a leak, or shit on your floor. THAT would be lazy and non-constructive! Don't let your pets do it on my space. Yes, MY SPACE. I pay taxes for this park - dogs don't.

There is a fence around this area for a reason. Respect it and stay the heck out of it. Stop being SELFISH and don't ruin a good thing.

NJA says: (4/8/10 12:16 AM)
Tanya- I'm so happy that you are contributing to this dialogue. It's people like you that balance out the open-minded, dynamic, welcoming bunch to create a realistic portrait of the community. I'm happy you decided to talk a walk around the DOT building while you can; pretty soon you'll hear barking there, too, so I'll await your next post on what your walk around Southwest DC brings.

JD says: (4/8/10 12:21 AM)
Oh, I hope it's not starting to be time for me to make people pick a username and stick with it, and be logged in when they comment....

Because I'll pull this car right over. I will! :-)

MJM says: (4/8/10 9:07 AM)
Tanya, I do have to ask - are you sure you were at Canal Park? 99.8% of the time the dogs aren't barking and if they do - it is not to the point where you can't hear yourself think. Stench, filth, germs, flies, associated with a dog park - really? Then I'm really surprised some of these cesspools, I mean dog parks exist in places like Dupont and the holiest of all places in DC - Capitol Hill.

Your post is a bit over the top when describing the sights and smells of a dog park.

For those lazy people - yeah I'm tried of people not picking up after their pets too and it is disgusting.

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