Turtle Park Renovation Delayed

Turtle Park

It’s back to the drawing board for the planned renovation of Friendship Park, more commonly known among residents as Turtle Park. Construction of a new recreation center, playgrounds, and tennis and basketball courts was expected to begin this spring. However, unexpected project expenses have led to a redesign of the recreation center, delaying the start of the renovation.

Contractor Thomkins Builders discovered a sewage line running under the existing recreation center, which must now be relocated as part of the renovation. The initial project budget did not include the cost of the relocation. In addition, the original design for the building, when fully priced out, proved too expensive for the $6 million construction budget, which also includes much needed play space updates at the park.

Over the past two months, architecture firm Fanning Howey has been working with the Friendship Park site improvement team, comprised of local community leaders, to develop a new plan for the recreation center. The original design for the outdoor play spaces and layout of the park remains relatively unchanged.

Planned layout for Turtle Park - courtesy of DGS and DPR

Layout planned for Turtle Park – courtesy of DGS

The recreation center will retain its expanded footprint of 5,200 square feet, and SIT members indicate that the new plans will ultimately represent a more efficient and cost effective use of space. However, some of the aesthetics of the building will change.

Gone is the sweeping roof and expansive wall of glass that originally fronted the building design. A small pavilion or gazebo may be added to the outdoor recreation area to provide covered event space that the original roof design would have provided. Inside, the spacious community room and co-operative pre-school will retain their square footage, providing ample program space, but the co-op space may no longer be adjacent to the tot lot. 

Rendering of one potential design for community center - courtesy of DGS and DPR

Rendering of one potential design for the recreation center – courtesy of DGS

Once the Department of General Services, architects, and the site improvement team have reached a consensus on a revised design, they intend to share the new plans for public comment at an Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting.

Details regarding the new tot lot and playground for older children are still to come. No word yet, either, on a revised timeline for the renovation. Speculation from those working on the project is that the park will remain open through the summer and construction will likely begin toward the end of the year.

The silver lining to the delays is that community members can enjoy Turtle Park in the coming months. The splash pad will open on Saturday, May 23, and D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation staff have been working hard to get it ready for the summer season. The Friends of Friendship Park will kick off summer with an ice cream social on May 30 at 6:00 p.m., and will hold a park clean-up day in mid-June.

For more information on the park renovation, visit the Department of General Services project page.