Before the end of the year, there will likely be a new playground and dog park at the corner of Third and L Streets NE. The park will bring a new jungle gym-like structure for children and some much needed space for dogs to a rapidly densifying corner of the District.
The park will be split roughly evenly between a jungle gym-like wall-holla for children, a fenced in space for dogs, benches and other amenities. The NoMa Parks Foundation bought the land for the park in late 2015, and its design team is ready to apply for permits as early as this week.
The wall-holla, which is being custom built, is an enclosed vertical children's play structure that is marketed for parks where space is at a premium, as is the case with Third and L.
Jeff Lee, the founding principal of Lee and Associates, which is designing the park, has called the 8,000 square foot plot a “micropark” due its small size. This drove the firm's decision to look at vertical elements for the space, ultimately settling on the wall-holla.
The dog park, which a lot of NoMa residents pushed for, will undulate slightly, with an elevated structure in the middle that dogs can climb on.
Area residents have formed the Friends of NoMa Dogs, which will be responsible for keeping the dog park clean once it opens, they said at a community meeting last week.
DC Parks and Recreation (DPR) will maintain the Third and L park.
Construction could begin in August
Representatives of Lee and Associates are optimistic that the planned park could open by the end of October or early November. Under the timeline released at a recent community meeting, the architects will present to the area neighborhood commission (ANC) and ask for a public space permit in May, aim to hire a contractor in the following months, and begin construction in August.
That timeline, while in line with the one that NoMa Parks released in 2016, could be a little ambitious considering some of the delays that have plagued some of the neighborhood's other early public space projects.
“We've had, really, one stumble and that's this M Street underpass,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID), at the meeting. “It's been three years that the designs been basically complete. Dealing with Amtrak has just proved more difficult than we anticipated.”
Installation of “Rain,” a public art piece designed to brighten and improve safety in the underpass, stopped last fall due to what Jasper calls siloed decision making at Amtrak. The railroad owns the walls and ceiling of the underpass, making its approval necessary for installation to move forward.
Still, the NoMa BID aims to address Amtrak's concerns soon with installation of Rain resuming shortly thereafter, said BID director of parks projects Stacie West at the meeting.
The Third and L park does not require any approvals from Amtrak thus, barring any setbacks getting permits or at the ANC, it is entirely feasible that construction move forward on schedule and the space open by November.
All eyes will be on the progress of the playground and dog park. As the first of the network of parks that NoMa Parks plans to build in the neighborhood, it will set a precedent for work on the neighborhood's upcoming spaces, including what Jasper has called its “most important” park: the more than two-acre park planned for the empty field adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail north of New York Avenue NE.