Although it is fairly well used, I think the Shaw Recreation Field (bounded by Shaw Middle School, Rhode Island Avenue, 11th and R Streets, Northwest) could be a much better place and asset for our neighborhood. Below is a run-down of what I see as the problems with the current park and what could be done to fix the problems. I *believe* that the field may be due for a makeover when Shaw Middle School is overhauled, so maybe dreaming now of what we want isn't too pie in the sky. There are also some short-term solutions that could enhance the park without significant investment.
In terms of amenities and uses, Shaw Recreation Field (the "park") includes a skate park, two basketball courts, a large field (used mostly for soccer), and a dog park, all of which are in constant use. There are no running or walking paths and no games available in the park. There is no ongoing programming for park activities, such as tournaments or concerts. Finally, there is no neighborhood group that maintains or watches over the park as a whole (the Shaw Dog Park group is very active and a good steward of its area, however).
Aesthetically, the park has no landscaping apart from some trees and grass. There are no flowers or shrubs. An asphalt parking lot takes up potential recreation space and acts as a physical buffer between the school and the park. There is no public art in the park. There are no banners and limited signage identifying the park.
The park lacks connectivity and flow. There are no clear primary gateways or entrance points to the park. There is no access to the park from 10th Street to the north. There are no paths within the park.
I think the park’s layout should be realigned to accommodate additional uses, particularly uses that compliment the adjacent middle school. It would be great to add paths such that runners and walkers could traverse pleasant, measured loops. It would be nice to add volleyball courts and/or additional competitive sports areas. It would also be nice to have other game areas throughout the park – like a chess area, tetherball, four square, and the like. An amphitheater – perhaps where the large concrete plaza and temporary library is today – would also be a neat addition.
The park could benefit from programming. Concerts, performances and/or group exercise would bring additional patrons to the park. Food vendors – particularly on the weekend – could enhance passive use of the park (e.g., reading a book in the shade, people watching, etc.). A neighborhood group that could tend to flower beds and generally be stewards of the park would also be great.
As I’ve said before, I think it would be nice to re-open 10th Street between Rhode Island and R Street to vehicular traffic. Short of that, however, I think the pedestrian connection should, at very least, be restored by placing a path through the park. The park also needs clearer gateways and entrances.
Public art – perhaps a signature sculpture at 10th and Rhode Island Avenue – throughout the park would be a nice enhancement. Flower beds and landscaping would also make the park a more enticing place. Park branding – through entrance signage, street pole banners, and wayfinding signs – would also make the park more inviting.
What do you think would make Shaw Recreation Field a better place in Shaw? I’d love to hear your suggestions for short term, minor improvements and long term, money-no-obstacle dreams.