There are big changes underway at the long neglected Randall Park located on I Street across from the Capitol Skyline Hotel and bordered by South Capitol Street. The Park, with its pool, playground, playing fields, tennis courts, and recreation center, will soon move from eyesore to asset, as evidenced by the construction fencing and equipment currently in place.

Thanks to Mayor Gray’s DC Plays Initiative, the park is undergoing a facelift. The asphalt is going to be replaced by a lawn and picnic tables, and the brick walls that prevented folks from seeing into the park and playground will be torn down. The children’s playground, which is currently obscured from view, will have very attractive new nautically-themed equipment. There will be bike racks and a water fountain along with improved lighting and signage.

To complement the park renovation, plans are in the making for renovation of the Randall Recreation Center. The building, with its large, green metal doors and grated windows, looks perpetually closed. The Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) seeks to turn the facility into a community center. With support from the ANC 6D, $450,000 is now dedicated to the renovation of the building. The funds include a $200,000 community benefit agreement negotiated by CBCC with the Bernstein Companies in 2012. An additional $250,000 was included by the city in the Soccer Stadium deal, due to the efforts of Councilmember Tommy Wells. The first priority for the Randall renovation will be replacing the green metal doors to make the building more welcoming and open to visitors. Preliminary designs commissioned by Telesis Corp from Marshall Moya Design will soon be shared with the ongoing Community Enrichment Committee. Marshall Moya Design noted that the building will need new electrical and related systems.

The renovation will be the next step in an ongoing process to breathe life into the facility. Owned by the city, and under the purview  of the Department of Parks and Recreation since 2013, the small facility has been managed by Sasha Bruce Youthworks with funding from the receivership from Southwest House. Programming there now includes youth services, summer recreation, and adult yoga. DC United, with its team present, recently used the facility for a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway. 150 turkeys were donated to Southwest families.

The CBCC Enrichment Committee, with help from the SWNA Youth Activities Task Force and the ANC 6D, anticipates ongoing efforts to secure funding for renovation and programming at the site. Please contact Committee Chair Eve Brooks at evebrooks@verizon.net if you are interested in participating in, learning more about, or adding fresh ideas to this exciting new recreation and community center.

By: Eve Brooks

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