ANC 6B Votes to Support the Redesign, Move Forward
Virginia Avenue Park redesign. (Rendering by Oehme van Sweden)
Neighbors around the Virginia Avenue Park in Southeast may soon get a newly designed space with a community garden, dog park and open green area. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) 6B voted March 14 to support a redesign of the park located mainly north of Interstate 695 between Ninth and 11th Streets SE, which commissioners hope starts following the completion of the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel project.
It took the commission two years to come up with a basic concept for the park’s redesign, said Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04). But when she asked landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden to create a redesign on a pro-bono basis, the vision for the space cleared.
“Before we had been working around the edges of what it had been,” Oldenburg said. “It’s a real change for the park — putting it in a place where it will be useful and viable for the changing neighborhood.”
Before the CSX tunnel project, the Oldenburg referred to the park as a “backwater” park — it attracted seedy people and drug deals. The City tried to curb the nefarious activity by removing shrubs, benches and other comfort amenities, but that turned the space into an open and uninviting lot.
The new design keeps the community garden; adds a fresh green space for people to picnic; play and visit in; and includes a dog park. The park space and dog park would need community-based friends or other partnership groups in order to establish (like the Kingman Dog Park organization in DC’s Northeast).
CSX wants to start the park redesign early in 2018 to cap its tunnel project and promise of a streetscape for the surrounding area. But the design still needs to go through a funding process and review with the DC Departments of Transportation and Parks and Recreation.
“This (ANC support letter) turns it back over to them — DDOT, DPR, CSX — to figure out who pays for what,” Oldenburg said.