DC celebrates new and improved Franklin Park downtown


A ribbon cut in Franklin Park in downtown DC on Friday celebrates the top-to-bottom transformation of public space that dates back to the 1850s.

The ribbon has been cut, formalizing the reopening of Franklin Park.

OMCP / Kristi King

The park has a lot of new equipment including a playground and a spray park.

OMCP / Kristi King

Hospitality Ambassador Anthony Price talks about resources available nearby for homeless people who might try to illegally pitch tents in the park.

OMCP / Kristi King

A map of the new development of Franklin Park.

OMCP / Kristi King

Aggie Byers and Ken Swart live a few blocks away and enjoy the transformation of Franklin Park into a new place to walk their dogs.

OMCP / Kristi King

People are already taking advantage of the new seats available at Franklin Park.

OMCP / Kristi King

Joe Schuman and Josh Wallin work nearby and love the custom designed benches.

OMCP / Kristi King

The Franklin Park restaurant area is still under construction.

OMCP / Kristi King

A ribbon cut in Franklin Park in downtown DC on Friday celebrates the top-to-bottom transformation of public space that dates back to the 1850s.

“Franklin Park’s origins lie in a source of fresh water that served the White House early in its incarnation, this place was not here because of The Child plan, but because of the ability of this source to serve the White House, ”said David A Rubin of the David Rubin Land Collective, who designed the remodeled space with Studios Architecture.

The renovation is the result of a partnership between its owners, the National Park Service, the Downtown DC Business Improvement District and the city which paid $ 21 million for the improvements.

The heritage of the park has focused on the experience of enjoying its fountains and underground water jets.

Much of what is new is not visible because it took place underground. For example, the site captures 100% of the rainwater and the replacement of soil mixtures helps control erosion.

“This park previously had a lot of erosion issues because the soil was extremely compressed, as landscape architect David Rubin likes to use a term – ‘The park was well liked’,” said Ja-mes Jones, project manager Smoot Construction for renovation.

“People love the park, so with the compression of the soil and the flower beds, you basically had surfaces as dense as concrete.”

Jones is from Baltimore and feels like “part of the DMV”.

“It was a labor of love,” Jones said. “There are a lot of new things in the park that weren’t there before. Custom-made wooden benches, fountains, all kinds of trees.

“And a cool little tip – this park is fantastic when the sun starts to set,” he continued. “There is lighting everywhere in this place. So it’s phenomenal.

People who use the park agree.

“It’s day and night,” Joe Schuman told a new employee at his workplace, Josh Wallin, who was seeing the space for the first time during his lunch break. The two were seated on some of the new custom benches.

“The grass, the trees, it’s all new. It was a little very concrete before the hand; big improvement, ”said Schuman.

There is also a playground with a slide for children.

Two years ago, “I wouldn’t have recommended it for kids,” Ken Swart said, while partner Aggie Byers.

They noted that chicken bones were regularly found in the park and presented a major choking hazard to dogs. Now they are impressed; using phrases like “absolutely gorgeous” and “it’s just wonderful”.

Franklin Park was also populated by homeless people setting up tents on the grounds.

New signs identifying prohibited activities, including “camping”, are posted by several entrances. However, community members are skeptical of the deterrent effect.

The park is federal land and the United States Parks Police have the ability to remove illegal campers, but steps are being taken to direct this population to other options and services.


Listen to Hospitality Ambassador Anthony Price’s conversation with a man who calls himself “the voice of experience”:


“Anyone who is going to suggest that dealing with encampments and homelessness is a simple solution does not know the human behavior and the very intense needs of people who choose to live on the streets,” Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters after the ceremony. ‘inauguration.

“We provide shelter in the District of Columbia for homeless people,” Bowser continued. “We’re going to work with each of our services to make sure people use those services. But we stand firm and believe that sleeping in tents is not safe for homeless people or for the community.

Read more: Residents of the homeless camp talk about DC’s plan to eliminate them

Alesha Knott, who works for the DowntownDC BID, said “it’s great to be a part of this new addition to the community and the city” while helping to clean up the park.

The Business Improvement District is reviewing applicants for a position of Events and Programming Manager for Franklin Park. The intention is that “solid programming” includes outdoor concerts, meditation sessions, Qigong, children’s music and dance, and more.

Although the washrooms are finished, the pavilion and restaurant are not yet complete.


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