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Stead Park Athletic Field Redevelopment Work Now Underway

In our lead story about Dupont East’s SteadPark major improvements project, we reported that at a recently held community meeting it was announced “that a community session on the planned construction schedule for the athletic playing field would be held within approximately a month, with a hoped-for August ground-breaking” (http://tinyurl.com/o4mcz9h).

However, late this past week, the parks and recreation department issued the following “construction update” notice informing that the schedule had been accelerated substantially:

“Demolition is set to begin on July 14th. For the first phase of the project, a construction entrance will be located on the East side of the field, at the point where Stead Field meets Church Street. Some parking spaces along Church Street will be temporarily unavailable, and part of the alley will be closed. Phase I will last approximately 12 weeks.

Once Phase II begins, the East construction entrance will be closed, and the construction entrance moved to the service entrance that is located on the Northeast corner of the field. This will serve as the construction entrance for the remainder of the project.”

This sudden acceleration of the start of construction resulted in an immediate flurry of email comments to and from neighborhood residents who had anticipated, based on what they had been told at the earlier community meeting (and what we reported), that they would have an opportunity to hear details and comment on the actual construction schedule and its impacts.

As David Alpert noted, “we were told at the Friends meeting that it was not proper to ask questions about construction impacts at that meeting, and that there would be subsequent community discussions for people to find out about construction. Then all of a sudden construction is happening.”

Another neighbor, Tom Jennings, had also shared his email addressed to Karen Hauser of the District’s Department of General Services in which he wrote, among other things, the following:

“. . . At the June 23 meeting we were told that we could NOT ask questions about plans for construction and that there would be a meeting to discuss construction issues prior to the start of construction.”

Today [Monday, July 15th], work within the park appears to be underway and bails of hay were placed over the sewers at the end of Church St (off of 16th). We hear through the grapevine that this is to stop the rats from the park from going into the sewers. After this afternoon’s brief but heavy rains, water flowed into our garage (at 1520 16th St) down the driveway like a river. I understand the need to control/abate the rats, but is there a way to do so without having those sewers blocked during the season of summer storms?”

Ms. Hauser responded to Mr. Jennings, as follows:

“Thank you for sharing your concerns with us.

“The attached construction update has been revised to reflect the change in location for the construction entrance per the explanation below. The original update was shared with the community two weeks ago; and the attached update will be shared via the DPR and DGS websites this week.

“We are looking into the issue of the hay bales, and will work with the contractor on an alternative solution. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

“To speak to a couple of points in your email below:

“1. At the time of the FOSP community meeting in June, the construction entrance had not been confirmed due to ongoing coordination with DDOT. That is the reason that the location was not communicated during that meeting – it was not a matter of secrecy, but a matter of not knowing yet where it would be located.

“2. Late last week, the contractor made the decision to use the existing service entrance at the Northeast corner of the field as the construction entrance. This makes the most sense for the project deliveries and staging now that the East entrance to the field has been deleted. Further, it minimizes disruption to the alley on the 16th street side of Church Street in that the alley will not be closed during construction. The ingress/egress to the garages mentioned below will not be blocked; and the residential parking should not be impacted. That said, during Phase II of construction it will be necessary for the contractor to reserve the metered spaces along the 16th Street side of Church Street in order to stage construction materials. At that point in construction, it will be necessary to store materials temporarily outside of the construction site so that they do not obstruct ongoing work. The contractor will obtain the required permits from DDOT at that time.

“3. The contractor mobilized and began demolition today. Barring any delays, we expect construction to continue for 16 weeks, which will bring us into November.

“With regard to a community meeting, we are amenable to holding one, however the information that we are able to share will not be different from the information above and attached. If you feel that a meeting is still necessary, please let us know and we will work with our Communications Department on a date that it can be held.”