In October 2015, the NoMa Parks Foundation successfully acquired a 5,200 SF parcel of vacant land at the the corner of 3rd and L streets NE from Cohen Siegel Investors. A condominium building had been previously planned and entitled for construction on the site. The NPF was able to move quickly through approval by the District of Columbia government and close on the acquisition in under 30 days.
This park fulfills the NoMa Public Realm Design Plan’s goal of having a variety of park spaces throughout the neighborhood, including a small neighborhood park.
This park is a story of opportunity and collaboration. The site is adjacent to the Loree Grand, the first apartment building to open within the NoMa BID boundaries (2010). Meanwhile, the large parcel adjacent to the Loree Grand (facing 2nd Street NE) remained undeveloped from 2009 until 2014. The property owner allowed the NoMa BID to use the property for nearly 100 public events, such as NoMa Summer Screen film viewings and the July 4th neighborhood cookout. Area residents began to use the large open space as a de facto dog park, but when construction began, the families and dog owners who had used the site on a regular basis needed another space, and they started using the lot at the corner of L and 3rd streets.
The NoMa Parks Foundation selected Lee and Associates, a D.C.-based landscape architecture firm, as designer for the site and continued to engage the community in the design process throughout 2016 and 2017. The NoMa Parks Foundation selected Blue Skye Construction, a D.C.-based general contractor, to build the park.
In late summer 2017, community members were asked to submit name ideas for the park. That fall, 1,500-plus people voted for their top choice among three finalists, and with 67% of the vote, Swampoodle Park — a reference to the vanished 19th century neighborhood that sat to the west and south of the park site — was selected as the final choice. Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen introduced legislation to officially name the park, and the Council voted in April 2018 to officially adopt the name.
Construction began in late August 2017. Swampoodle Park is a highly designed, multifunctional park on an extremely small site comprising 5,200 square feet of private space and approximately 3,000 feet of public space. Included are the following distinct elements: four planting beds; a complex bioretention structure; eight custom, poured-in-place seat walls; custom curbs and pavers; a unique play structure requiring a special foundation and attachments; specialty surfacing and subsurfaces for the playground and canine areas; a custom, poured-in-place dog agility structure; lighting; irrigation and water stations; custom fencing with two electronic dog-entry gates; and other miscellaneous park elements.
The NPF had requested, and NPF’s contractor had agreed to, an aggressive construction timeline. The original timeline was, in hindsight, unrealistic given the site constraints, the need for new utility services, and adjacent construction projects that delayed the issuance of permits for work in public space.
Significantly, due to the extremely tight site, construction activities needed to be approached sequentially rather than concurrently, as originally anticipated. The required phasing made it impossible to achieve the planned completion of construction. Additionally, the cold, wet winter and rain-heavy spring further hampered the contractor in completing certain activities, such as pouring concrete or installing the K9 turf and playground safety surface. Throughout the park’s construction, adjacent utility work necessitated by other nearby development projects put Swampoodle Park in a queue for the required permits to make utility connections. The final element contributing to the delays at Swampoodle Park was the NPF’s dogged insistence on a high-quality outcome. Significant time was added to the schedule as the NPF insisted on work to improve the aesthetic appearance of poured-in-place concrete elements at the site and completely rejected the initial installation of the K9 turf in order to diminish the number of seams and ensure the turf’s longevity.
Swampoodle Park opened on November 17, 2018, to a boisterous crowd of neighborhood supporters, their children, and their dogs. The NPF thanks its D.C. government partners, including the support of Mayor Muriel Bowser and former Mayor Vincent Gray, as well as the D.C. Council, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen, and our D.C. agency partners, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of General Services. We thank the Friends of NoMa Dogs for their support of Swampoodle Park and their commitment to assist with park maintenance; the ANC6C Environment, Parks and Events Committee for its oversight and support; Jeff Lee and his team at Lee and Associates for an amazing design that harmoniously addressed the community’s aspirations for Swampoodle Park; and Blue Skye Construction for the hard work that went into the construction of this wonderful park.
Design for the new park kicked off at the March 29th Community Conversation. You can view the presentation and read a summary of the Q&A portion of the evening here:
Concept designs were shared at a community meeting on May 4th. You can view the presentation below, and share your thoughts here.
A refined concept was shared at the June 2016 NoMa Parks Community Conversation on June 11th. You can view the refined concept below, and share your thoughts here.
The final design for the park was shared at the April 2017 NoMa Parks Community Conversation. You can view the final presentation below.
• DCist: NoMa Is Getting Its First Public Park. There Will Be a Puppy Parade to Celebrate (11/16/18)
• Curbed DC: NoMa Gets Its First-Ever Park This Saturday (11/15/18)
• WAMU: Not Just A Silly Name: ‘Swampoodle’ Park Pays Tribute To D.C.’s Irish Past (12/18/17)
• Greater Greater Washington: The Latest Design for the New Third Street Park in NoMa Emphasizes Kids and Dogs (6/23/16)
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