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Mired in Red Tape, DC-Area Sports Park Gets Much-Needed Nudge

14 Mar, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic
Supporters Eager to Clear Last Hurdles to Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park

Nothing gets done quickly in Washington, D.C. – there’s ample evidence of that on Capitol Hill – but supporters of a new sporting complex that will offer outlets for youth sports hope that their project, the Capitol Riverside Youth Sports Park, will start moving. The proposed park, which will be built a parcel of land now occupied by parking lots just north of RFK stadium, has strong support from the community and city officials. The facility was first proposed in 2011.

The process got a much needed nudge this week, when Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B (ANC 6B, which serves the Capitol Hill and Southeast areas, unanimously approved a letter to Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, calling on her to make funds available to begin fill in the 80-acre space with playing fields, bike trails, a farmers market pavilion, river access and walks and other outdoor amenities, according to the Web site Hill Now.

The development “could be a potential boon to Hill East,” ANC 6B chairwoman Kirsten Oldenburg wrote in the letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

“The CRYSP vision is to turn environmentally unfriendly and wasteful surface parking lots into an active gathering space for youth and adults sports,” she wrote.

In the meantime, Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen has said the project has a “long march” ahead of it, and has warned residents and supporters to be patient and engage in the process.

“It’s not nearly as easy as saying, ‘Let’s go build this thing,’” Allen said.

One of the reasons the project may have a long road ahead of it is because, despite local approvals, the project now needs the cooperation of the federal government and Events D.C. Currently, the city leases the land RFK stadium stands on from the National Park Service, and Events D.C. manages the stadium and its grounds. According to Allen, legislation may need to be written before the proposed youth sports park can begin to take shape.  This legislation could create a task force for the project.

Supporters of the project have formed an organization called “Friends of the Capitol riverside Youth Sports Park.” They maintain that new facility would be a great way to alleviate the relative lack of green space in that quadrant of Washington, DC.

“This vision addresses a key lack of field space that has left teams packed like sardines into the few spaces that are available nearby Kingman Park, Rosedale, Carver/Langston, and Capitol Hill,” wrote CRYSP board member Mike Barrette on the group’s Web site.

The group’s plans for the site address the concerns of some hesitant to support the project, including how parking spaces can be preserved and even increased beyond existing levels in the event that the site is part of a future Summer Olympic Games bid or hosts pro football in 2027 or beyond.

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