29 February 2008

A Place to Play: Playground Initiative Grows in Brookland

We won't know for sure until the 2010 census, but it sure feels like there's been a baby-boom in Brookland/Michigan Park/Woodridge. A quick survey of local playgrounds turns up a number of dilapidated and sometimes vandalized play areas which don't do much to inspire parents to bring their children out. Healthy and accessible open space and play areas are no small asset for parents raising children in the city. Getting outside, getting exercise, and connecting with the community are only a few of the perks of well attended playgrounds.

A number of local neighbors have begun organizing to do something about the neighborhoods' lack and we invite you to get involved. You don't have to be a parent to care about playgrounds. It's a benefit to us all when children of all ages have safe and healthy places to play.

Three ways to get involved:

Dream a Little Dream:
We are soliciting ideas for the ideal park and playground. We are looking to the neighbors to tell us what you want to see in a new playground. The group intends to target a particular site to put our efforts behind, so gathering together the vision of the neighborhood helps. What are your favorite parks and why? What is your child's/nephew's/grandchild's favorite activity? Send your comments to brooklandjess@earthlink.net by Thursday March 6th.

Make Some Noise for Noyes:
The group quickly uncovered that the Noyes Park (map) is mired in budget politicking. Two years ago, the Department of Parks and Recreation completed a fantastic set of plans for development of the empty parcel bordered by 10th Street NE and Franklin Street NE. The park includes landscaped area and would be a benefit to all residents, not just families with children. Each year, during the usual round of cuts, this park is waylaid. The 2009 budget is presented in March and finalized in June, so this is our window of opportunity to lobby to keep this park in the budget!

It's valid to note that Ward 5's own Councilmember Tommy Thomas is the chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks, and Recreation. Other councilmembers include Carol Schwartz, At-Large, David A. Catania, At-Large, Phil Mendelson, At-Large, and Yvette Alexander, Ward 7.

Here is a sample letter. Please tailor it to reflect your concerns.
I am writing to ask for a moment of your time to email our council
member and mayor to include the funding for Noyes Park (the field at
10th & Franklin) in the 2009 budget.

Detailed plans for this site were drawn up over a year ago. The 2009 budget is being finalized over the next couple of months so it is a good time to support the addition of a beautiful landscaped park and playground to the neighborhood.

Join us for a Cuppa: Join the Brookland Playground Group at the next open meeting, March 8, 11 am, at Cardinals Nest for coffee and planning, 3748 10th Street, NE. The group is new and we are eager to invite input from the neighborhood.

Photo by elfrenetico


  1. What about Turkey Thicket? Isn't there a good playground there with the brand new recreation center?

  2. It's true there is a new rec center at Turkey Thicket but the playground predates the facility by a few decades. One of the ideas is to create a "Friends of" group for Turkey Thicket and work as a community to get a new and more accessible playground installed there.

  3. Wouldn't it be much better to upgrade the infrastructure in and around 12th street rather than put public dollars into a playground to make it nice for those folks with kids? Let's start a group that is called "upgrade the streets and sidewalks -- spend the money already in the budget and get it done!"

    Playgrounds are a bonus in a neighborhood that already has the basics - like real street lights and safe sidewalks...forget the playground and instead make brookland safe!

  4. To previous poster: An improved or new playground will likely be paid for by private fundraising, not public dollars. (Unless proposed plan at Noyes goes through) I agree that if I had to focus tax payer dollars on something in Brookland there would be a long list of other items (including improvements on 12th st) before a playground.

  5. KaBOOM! is a national nonprofit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in North America. We currently have a corporate sponsor that would like to cover the majority of the funding as well as provide volunteers to help build a playground in NE DC in June 2008. We need your help to identify those individuals and community organizations that serve children and families that would really benefit from and who would embrace the process of a community built playspace partnership. An organization must meet the following criteria to qualify:

     Fundraise $7,500 USD towards the cost of equipment. The playground area will be worth approximately $40,000 USD at completion. (Community Partners also receive a free Toolkit, a set of four books, including a fundraising guide, to help fundraise for the Community Partner contribution.) Visit www.playworldsystems.com to view the type of equipment we would use for your playground. Attached is a sample playground design!

     Provide at least 2500 sq. feet in available land and complete any needed site preparation, i.e. removing old equipment, asphalt, grading the land.

     Providing additional in kind responsibilities such as breakfast and lunch for Build Day, tools, restroom facilities, and a dumpster.

     Recruit 125 volunteers for Build Day and recruit parents who are excited about serving on planning committees for an 8-10 week period.

     Accept ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the playspace upon completion.

    Our goal is to not only build a new playspace but also to use the project to strengthen existing support networks and to build new relationships within the community. The approximate 10 week planning process kicks off with a Design Day where the children literally design their dream playgrounds, and culminates on Build Day where volunteers build the new playground in about six hours.

    In order to be considered, please complete and submit an application by e-mail or fax to Shannon Wilk at swilk@kaboom.org or 202-659-0210by Friday, March 14th. Please contact me directly at 202-464-6168 to obtain a copy of the application. I would also love to answer any questions you may have in regard to the opportunity and the application process.

    For more information about KaBOOM! please visit www.kaboom.org.

    Thank you for your consideration, and we hope to hear from you!

    In Play,

    Shannon Wilk

  6. To the poster who said public money shouldn't be used for a playground - if you want public money to be used for something else, then start a group and advocate for it. But, don't tell parents in the neighborhood that wanting the city to pay for a playground, when they have the money, shouldn't be a priority.

    And there is money to pay for the beautification of 12th St - not sure what's going on with the over $100,000 to do that - ask Richard Layman...

  7. Did the whole dog park idea get blown up or is that part of the plans for Noyes park?

  8. My company uses a playground manufacturer located in Maryland, called Sport Systems, to install the tot lots in the communities we develop. They are BY FAR the most helpful and cost effective commercial playground company in the area because of their local and you don't have to pay several thousand dollars in delivery charges. I have had issues with every other playground company due to turn around time, poor maintenance, and shoddy equipment. Sport Systems has never failed me. I believe they have installed all the play equipment at Ft. Belvoir, Quantico, and Andrews AFB. I would check out their website and contact themn for help on this matter- www.sport-systems.com


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