Update on DPR's changes coming to Petworth Park playground

DPR's Peter Nohrden speaks to residents.

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has $2 million dollars allocated by the DC government to upgrade the Petworth Playground at 8th and Taylor Streets NW. The process of planning the enhancements and changes has begun, starting with a meeting on December 7th with a group of residents and members of Friends of Petworth Park. During the meeting DPR laid out the timeline and set expectations for next steps. Here's an overview.

According to DPR, the $2 million set aside in the mayor's budget is intended for the installation of a new ground surface and equipment in the spray park, as well as new playground equipment and updates to the basketball court. If money remains after that, they will look at other updates based upon resident requests / feedback, such as shade structures, benches, lighting, etc. There are currently no drawings, plans or designs as yet, but that's coming early next year. 

The meeting was led by DPR's project manager, Peter Nohrden, with other staff from DPR and the Department of General Services (DGS), who maintain the playground equipment.

Now that the $2 million is allocated, DGS and DPR are working together to identify and hire an architecture and engineering (A/E) firm and assign project and construction managers. The RFP process (request of proposals) from the firms will take until February 2018, after which the design phase will begin. This is where more resident input can have impact. DPR will be sending out announcements for this meeting in early 2018.

Design is broken down into four phases through May 2018: Concept, Schematic, Development and Construction Documents (final design drawings and project specifications). In each phase, DPR and DGS will be offering opportunities for community review at various meetings.

Come May and June, DGS and the AE firm will be submitting the final construction documents for permitting, and procuring construction bids so that a contract can be awarded and permits issues.

Construction should begin during the Summer or early Fall and take approximately four to six months to complete. DPR is very aware that the park, basketball courts, spray park and playground are heavily used by schools, camps and residents, and don't want to block off the park during the entire construction. Mr. Nohrden said they are very interested in working with residents and the Friends of Petworth Park to plan out the construction timeline, enabling sections of the park to be open and available while other sections are under construction. For example, it's possible the main grassy area of the park will remain open during the summer while the basketball courts are resurfaced and updated (e.g., new baskets and backboards), or the spray park open during the hotter months and construction begun on that area done during cold months. 

Google satellite view of the Petworth Playground at 8th & Taylor Sts NW

Beyond the required changes to the basketball courts, spray park and playground, Mr. Nohrden said they are open to adding new features based on feedback, and what the available budget is after the initial designs are completed. He said if the spray park is left largely intact underground (i.e., the pipes and plumbing) and only the above ground spray equipment changed, they will save a considerable amount of money that can be used on other requested enhancements such as shade, an adult workout area, better lighting and seating and more.

He said that changes to the Recreation Center building itself are not planned.

View a PDF of the meeting agenda and project timeline. 

The upgrades should be completed by late Fall 2018. DGS and DPR will be holding a series of meetings in the coming year. Here's an overview of what to expect, as provided by DGS:

Community Meeting 1: Typically, this meeting is held as soon as the A/E is onboard and the design phase of the project is beginning. The purpose of this meeting is to introduce the “project team” to the community and for DPR to work with community on their program requirements for the project.

Meeting 2: This meeting is held once the project team or A/E has had time to digest the information from Meeting 1 and discuss the information with DPR to assist with development of the program as it relates to the new space. The purpose of this meeting is to refine the community wants/needs with them.

Meeting 3: When will residents see a design? At this time, previous meeting #2 would have some concepts design meeting 3 is held at about the 50% Design Development phase while changes to the design are not overly burdensome or cost-prohibitive. This meeting provides the community a look at the progress of the design and a representation of what they’re getting. The community should be asked to provide feedback on the progress at this point. DGS and DPR will discuss the feedback received and incorporate into the design if necessary.

Meeting 4: The final community meeting for design is held at or very near to the 100% Construction Documents phase of design. This purpose of this meeting is to show the final design to the community and discuss the schedule for construction. This meeting also provides a perfect opportunity for the team to notify the community of the interim changes that the project will necessitate such as where specific programs will be temporarily relocated to during construction. Community related issues such, as parking changes, noise, project work hours, etc. should also be discussed at this meeting.

Meeting 5: Once the General Contractor of the design/build team is on board a meeting is held with the community to introduce the Design Build Team, discuss project schedule and the impact construction may have on resident’s quality of life (parking, noise, project work hours, etc.).

Community Updates: DGS will provide monthly updates via email and have the information posted on the DGS webpage. Any required community meetings will be held and facilitated by DPR.

More to come on this as the year progresses.