Yellow tree trunks line the walkway from the Southwest Duck Pond to the 3rd and I Street Park as a temporary art installation, to garner interest in a modernized Town Center Parks program in Southwest. The Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID) is hoping to gather community input around a vision for the public spaces stretching between those two parks, to develop a plan for a park system in the center of Southwest DC that will serve as a revitalized community gathering space.
The original Town Center Parks came about with urban renewal in the 1970s and were completed in 1972 as a central public space for the neighborhood. In 2007, the middle section of Town Center Parks was removed during the demolition of the Waterfront Mall, leaving the Southwest Duck Pond Park and the 3rd and I Street Park by the library. After the demolition, the Southwest Duck Pond was unattended and fell into decline. In 2010, neighbors came together for community cleanups that restored some of the cosmetics of the park. However, the pond continued to need significant infrastructure repairs.
In Dec. 2018, the SWBID received $250,000 from the Southwest Community Foundation (SWCF) to both assess and plan for a renovation of the Southwest Duck Pond Park and to create a vision for modernizing the Town Center Parks. Currently, the string of open spaces is disconnected, creating separate experiences for each area. The hope is to create a linear park experience that would link the spaces into a larger neighborhood framework to build a stronger sense of community. While each individual park space would serve a different function for play, relaxation, community events, public art and connectivity, cohesive materiality would tie them together to make a uniquely Southwest community hub.
The SWBID and LandDesign, a planning and landscape architecture firm working on the project, have convened an advisory group of key neighborhood stakeholders to guide the planning process. The temporary art installation to drive awareness and community input for the project is one of many approaches the SWBID will be taking to ensure community involvement. Now that the project has received survey input, the next forum for community input will take place at the opening Farmers’ Market on Saturday, April 13 at the lot at 4th and M St. The SWBID will be sharing initial concepts and will be conducting walking tours of the parks.
The initial grant from the SWCF supports some renovation to the Southwest Duck Pond Park and high-level visioning for the whole Town Center Parks system. The SWBID and LandDesign architects are working closely with partners in the city to secure the necessary funding for an ambitious vision to restore the original spirit of the Town Center Parks.
You can read more about the history of the Southwest Duck Pond Park at http://www.southwestduckpond.org.
By Anne McNulty