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The National Park Service has been planning to do something, sort of, with Reservation 72—-otherwise known as Chinatown Park at 5th and I Streets NW—-for about six years now. The Commission on Fine Arts signed off on the improvements back in 2004, after all. It’s taken since then to secure permits and funding, and the Downtown Business Improvement District is now shooting to start work on April 1.
And even after all that time, it’s unlikely that people hoping for more activity there, like a play structure, will be satisfied. All that’s planned is what the BID’s Ellen Jones calls “refurbishment of the bones of the park”: repair of concrete paths and iron fences, replacement of benches and trash cans, and re-sodding. The improvements will cost $200,000, paid for by the Park Service, downtown property owners, and the District Department of Transportation.
“We are aware that the surrounding community has a lot of aspirations for what could happen in the park,” Jones says. “What we’re doing is creating a pallette in good repair for the community to continue conversations with the National Park Service going forward.”
Which will take forever, of course, given the number of hoops any downtown park improvements have to jump through.
“The level of review is not commensurate with the size of the park,” Jones said, with the barest twinge of exasperation.