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The Usual Suspects gathered today at Second and M streets, SE, for Canal Park's ceremonial groundbreaking (at last). Mayor Fenty, Ward 6 council member Tommy Wells, Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos, Christopher Smith of W.C. Smith, and Chris Vanarsdale of the Canal Park Development Association each said a few words, with the words "school buses" being uttered a number of times as speakers talked about the previous life of these three blocks in the middle of Near Southeast. [The mayor even went off-script during his remarks to ask a startled neighborhood blogger how many photos of school buses are in the blog's archive; "about a thousand," came the response, which sounded flip but which is probably true.]
Here is a quick assemblage of photos from the event; if you want to know more about the park (or see old photos of school buses), my Canal Park project page is worth peeking at, as is the official Canal Park web site. Construction is expected to take 12-14 months, so look for the park to open in Fall of 2011.
For those who haven't been following along, Canal Park will stretch from I to M streets SE along the two parts of Second Street--some people may know this location as the open field across from Subway and Five Guys, about three blocks northeast of Nationals Park. The park has been designed to be a showcase of low-impact design and "green" features, including a sizeable stormwater management component. 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 an 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.)
[PS: And, yes, I absconded with one of the shovels. But it was donated, not stolen!]
UPDATE: Here is the press release from the mayor's office on the project.
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GW says: (8/31/10 12:36 PM)
"...so look for the park to open in Fall of..." *2011*


JD says: (8/31/10 12:37 PM)
Oops, thanks.


Richard says: (8/31/10 1:46 PM)
How about that shout out to the Blogger by
Mayor Fenty...and his use of Near Southeast in
his remarks!


JD says: (8/31/10 1:54 PM)
It will be a long, lonely, and ultimately fruitless crusade of mine to convince people that this neighborhood's name truly is Near Southeast. And yes, I did notice that the Mayor said it. :-)


Hillad says: (8/31/10 2:53 PM)
And what are all those poor dogs going to do in the evenings now?


MJM says: (8/31/10 4:56 PM)
Got an e-mail this morning - not too sure if it is true or not - on the VA Ave dog park. The was being planned for a while but if the e-mail is true, there is a fence up. Will check it out around 6 to see if it is true.


MJM says: (8/31/10 7:50 PM)
Yup, its a dog park, just waiting on the gates to be put in - supposedly by the end of the week. Its a good size area near the spay/neuter clinic.


Sophia Monster says: (9/1/10 3:01 PM)
Isn't this the 10th groundbreaking they've had for this park? Maybe I'm just thinking of other Near Southeast projects. In either case, they might want to start thinking about reusing some of those shovels.


JD says: (9/1/10 3:30 PM)
Nope, this is the only groundbreaking Canal Park has had. Back in 2007 they had a ceremony to honor a big check the city received from JBG Cos. to help fund both it and Diamond Teague Park.

Actual shovels-in-the-ground groundbreakings since I've been watching have been Nationals Park, Capper, Onyx/100 M, Yards Park, Diamond Teague Park, and now Canal Park.


JoeNDC says: (9/2/10 8:10 AM)
Why yes Sophia Monster, you are correct. They should reuse those shovels. In fact they were looking for an extra that was earmarked for their next groundbreaking. Alas, it disappeared. Rumor on the street from those in attendance said they saw a woman with a camera around her neck slowing, ever so quietly slinking away, stage right with what appeared to be a shovel. Strange, very strange indeed. Hmmmmm.:)

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