By Felica Couts

By now, most Southwest residents have heard about the efforts of the Southwest Playground Project (SWPP), a project
of the Near SE/SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council, to bring a safe, public playground to the D.C. owned park fronting the Southwest Neighborhood Library at Third and I (Eye) streets, SW.

The SWPP has more than 40 resident volunteers — some parents– who have consistently offered support since January 2011 to make this dream a reality. Volunteer architects have donated hours of research and fact-gathering to put the
group’s ideas on paper. The group will soon meet with an architect who will provide additional expertise for the site and the group’s concepts. Volunteers with communications backgrounds have spread the word to the community through
various social and written media, including community canvassing. In addition, volunteers have contributed their creative ideas to help reach our fundraising goal of $150,000.

The SWPP also has the support of community businesses. Station 4 was the first to make a generous donation of $1,200 from its soft opening in June. Safeway quickly followed with a $5,000 grant from its foundation in August. Most recently, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel raised more than $38,000 through the FANtastic March 10K walk/run on Sept. 18.
The CSX Corporation has also donated $1,000. SWPP also has the support of Make Kids Smile, a Rockville-based non-profit that helps communities build playgrounds; they will provide a $15,000 grant to help purchase play equipment.

Most importantly SWPP has the much-needed support of the families who live in Southwest. Southwest residents are showing their strong support and approval for this grassroots effort with many signatures on a general support letter, and letters of support from the Southwest Neighborhood Library, Capitol Park IV Condominium, Greenleaf Gardens Extension, Harbour Square and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly Youth Activities Task Force. More support letters are expected from the Friends of the Southwest Library, Capitol Park Apartments and Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells’ office.

Stay alert for more information about SWPP’s upcoming community meeting with the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation where the group will unveil their proposed plan and obtain some pertinent design input from residents.
To learn more visit www.swdcplayground.blogspot.com or contact Felicia Couts, Project Manager, at swplaygroundproject@gmail.com.

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