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Rose Park Renovations Set to Begin in Summer

By George AltshulerCurrent Correspondent

District recreation officials plan to break ground in July on renovations to Georgetown’s Rose Park.

The 1.5-acre park, located at 26th and P streets, will receive upgrades to its southern “tot lot” and its northern playground for older children. The tennis courts will also be resurfaced.

The tot lot for 2- to 5-year-olds will feature a new play structure with two slides; a larger, deeper sandbox; and six swings, two of which will be accessible for children with disabilities.

The northern playground, located near the park’s basketball courts, will be expanded slightly and will include a new play structure with several slides and structures for climbing.

Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson John Stokes said the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $1.5 million project will happen in October. Georgetown’s Kadcon Construction will build the playgrounds.

However, before construction can begin, the Old Georgetown Board must officially approve of the final designs because of the neighborhood’s status as a federally protected historic district. Stokes said his department will seek the board’s approval in June.

The board approved the parks department’s concept design in November 2013, specifying that planners needed to submit a landscape plan and details about a ramp for people with disabilities.

Stokes said that during construction, the park’s play co-op for toddlers, which uses the playgrounds, will instead use the sports fields, as well as equipment that the parks department will provide.

He also said the Georgetown Farmers Market, which takes place every Wednesday from May through October, will not be affected.

In fact, once complete, the northern playground will pay homage to the weekly market with a play structure designed to look like a farmers market stand.

Despite a few other new elements including a handicap-accessible see-saw, the renovations will largely maintain the feel of the playgrounds.

“I think that the fact that the sandbox in the tot lot is going to be preserved is a big deal,” said Guy Raz, a member of Friends of Rose Park and a parent of two young children. “The reality is that little kids love the sandbox and that the sandbox is a really great place for parents and caregivers to gather.”

Both playgrounds will have a wood chip surface because the park is in the watershed of Rock Creek. Unlike rubber surfaces, wood chips absorb water, so they create less runoff during storms.

Wood chips are also significantly cooler during the summer, and they are just as effective as rubber at bracing falls, according to studies Raz cited.

In the past, community members have expressed dismay at the condition of the Rose Park recreation center’s bathrooms and the path on the western side of the park. However, the District’s “PlayDC” initiative is funding the upcoming renovations, and this money can be used only to renovate playgrounds, according to the guidelines of the program.

Furthermore, the Friends of Rose Park website explains that the path falls under the purview of the National Park Service.

Still, Raz said the renovated playgrounds will go a long way toward enhancing the feel of the park as a whole.

“The great thing about the park is that unlike other parks in the city, it’s not a series of fenced-off areas,” he said. “Everyone’s sort of integrated, and I think the playgrounds are going to enhance that even more.”

This article appears in the May 21 issue of The Georgetown Current newspaper.