Over the years, I’ve given a lot of thought to D.C.’s parks, playgrounds, and green spaces. Perhaps this is partially due to how little accessible green space we currently have in Park View. As vast amounts of land just aren’t going to become available anytime soon, its easier to think about how current parkland could be improved to increase their value to the community without decreasing their usefulness.
The Park View Recreation Center is an obvious site where — though it is greatly improved — there is still room for additional improvement. Fortunately, the small field house is currently being renovated which should add much needed space for community meetings, birthday parties, or any other community event without impacting the Rec Center’s programs.
With regards to our smaller park areas, amenities should be in scale with their sites, add beauty to the community, and enhance or encourage activities that already exist. For an example, just over a year ago I suggested that the small park area at Kenyon and Georgia Avenue would be an ideal place for Washington’s original von Steuben memorial (either the original or a replica). The site is part of what was once Schuetzen Park, the original site of the memorial. It is also a small site well suited to a small public sculpture.
In the same spirit, a small work of art would also be well suited to the small triangle park at Rock Creek Church Road and Park Place (aka Reserve 321-A). Having observed people use this park for years, I’ve seen two primary activities there — young adults playing catch and dog owners playing with their companions or just taking them for a walk. Keeping this in mind, a sculpture on the site would need to be small, out of the way, and ideally useful. One idea could be a small fountain.
In thinking about fountain types, I think the Fountain of Three Graces in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, offers a good example of the characteristics that such a fountain in our area could embrace. Its relatively simple, it has no front or back being instead in the round, the water catch basins are at ground level, and it includes lighting to illuminate the fountain at night. Why I’m particularly drawn to the fountain idea, and one with ground level catch basins, goes back to all the dog owners I see using the park. If it is possible to install such an amenity, it would be nice if the fountain could double as a place where dogs could get a drink of water, especially in the hot summer weather.
Many of our smaller parks serve a variety of needs, but at most have infrastructure limited to sidewalks and street lights. This seems like a missed opportunity, and one that should be fully developed with community input. Whether a fountain here, or a sculpture there, or something entirely different, D.C. needs a master plan for parks and public spaces beyond what is strictly maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Design and placement aside, the image below shows how such a fountain could look: