Below is an article is from the East of the River Editorial Section. This editorial discusses the possibly of Multi-Purpose Youth Complex in the Kingman Park Community at RFK Stadium. How do you feel about this proposal? Leave a comment and voice your opinion.
Lisa White, ANC Commissioner SMD 7D01 Kingman Park
Imagine an 80-acre complex of green space, multiple sports fields and other facilities, biking/walking/running trails, a new covered pavilion area for the DC Farmer’s Market, an amphitheater space for outdoor performances, and Solar Community Gardens to promote green power — easily accessible from three wards in Washington DC. A coalition of youth sports, environmental, and community organizations, from both sides of the Anacostia River, are proposing just such a concept. Currently called the Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park(or CRYSP), the concept is to convert a large portion of the northern parking area at the RFK Stadium site to a youth sports park, including multi-use athletic fields and substantial green space. An initial vision for this concept can be found at http://www.capitolriverside.org; where community input is being solicited, and volunteers can sign up to help move this vision forward. CRYSP can provide a “coming together” point for three city wards – Wards 5, 6 and 7. Replacing the desolate wasteland of the RFK parking lot that currently serves as a DMZ that separates these wards, CRYSP could provide a true “gateway,” uniting young people (and their families) along theAnacostiaRiver, perhaps even heading towards Mayor Gray’s “One City” goal.
Converting a large portion of the RFK Stadium site to youth sports facilities will help meet a critical underserved need for DC youth sports programs. The number of DC children ages three through eighteen engaging in organized sports has exploded over the past decade, with the need for athletic fields that can accommodate the surging demand. Citywide, 5,700 kids are registered to play soccer; more than 3,400 are registered to play football; and thousands are playing baseball, softball, lacrosse, ultimate Frisbee, field hockey and other outdoor sports. As the number of younger players engaging in organized sports continues to grow, youth sports programs serving DC youth will continue to be challenged in providing safe, accessible, and high-quality outdoor spaces for DC youth to use for sports and recreation, along with helping in the fight against childhood obesity.
This conversion also can create considerable environmental benefits to the Anacostia watershed. Over 52 percent of the RFK stadium site is covered with concrete and asphalt. Run-off from this area drains into the Anacostia River run treated, providing a major source of storm water runoff into the river. Replacing a large portion of this area by sports fields can dramatically reduce this run-off, while Solar Community Gardens can create jobs and promote renewable energy.
Finally, the above-grade Metro line in this area is a major constraint to many redevelopment options in this area; however, its existence is not an impediment to a facility such as CYRSP.
The concept is consistent with the 2006 National Capitol Planning Commission recommendations for the RFK stadium site. The Capital Space initiative (www.capitalspace.gov) identified a particular lack of ball fields, recreational facilities, and open space in the Northeast quadrant of the city, leading to its recommendation, among other things, that DC “…develop multi-use sports complexes that can accommodate a range of sports uses, but also include new athletic fields.” This situation provided the basis for a NCPC recommendation that the RFK Stadium site fill such pressing recreation needs. Moreover, the NCPC notes that permeable recreational surfaces such as athletic fields should be concentrated along the water’s edge to reduce environmental impacts.
This conversion can take place relatively quickly, and provide such immediate benefits pending development, and eventual implementation, of a more comprehensive plan for redevelopment of the RFK stadium site. As currently envisioned, the concept is fully compatible with other potential future uses of the complex for professional sports teams, such as DC United or the Redskins. And combining this with incorporation of additional recreational space associated with the DC General/Reservation 13 redevelopment would further leverage these benefits.
This concept was submitted as an idea under the Sustainable DC initiative run by the Mayor’s Office – and it received more votes than any other idea. We need to encourage the Mayor that this creates a win-win-win situation for DC Wards 5, 6, and 7, as well as the entire District.
Alphonso Coles, Ward 7 Resident and Ward 6 Men’s/Fatherhood Program
Dennis Chestnut, Executive Director, Groundwork Anacostia River DC
Michael Godec, Vice President, Sports on the Hill