Community-wide Play - A Community Recreation Initiative in Reservoir Hill and Penn North

Community recreation as the theme of a community initiative arose through the outreach phase of building Draft Recommendations for city investment in Reservoir Hill and Penn North.  The popular interest in increased community recreation mirrored earlier findings of Family League surveys and JEH School Design Team surveys.

We started getting feedback on the idea of a recreation initiative at the June 2016 Community Meeting.  In July, a group that expressed interest in the initiative met to think through the elements of a community recreation initiative funded through INSPIRE.  The goal was to agree on a set of elements for the recreation initiative for which Planning would develop budgets and for which we would advocate full funding.  Personnel from St. Francis Neighborhood Center, The Department of Planning, Neighborhood Design Center, Shoe City, Penn North Community Association, Druid Heights CDC, John Eager Howard School, and RHIC shared ideas on assembling an exciting multi-generational recreation program that would link Reservoir Hill and Penn North.

From that session we identified four key pieces of the initiative at present:

  1. An upgraded German Park
  2. Installation of a Youth 10 Sports Field at JEH School
  3. A Penn North site not yet determined
  4. A proposal for connecting the above and other existing recreation sites by creating safe, attractive corridors that include multi-generational exercise and play opportunities. KaBOOM is interested in partnering with INSPIRE-related initiatives and they are particularly interested in creating connected play opportunities community-wide.  

Funding the initiative will come from public and private resources.  Shoe City is investing in some of the upgrades to the basketball court.  INSPIRE funds will target major capital improvements in the initiative.  Discussions are underway with KaBOOM who funded and worked with residents to organize the building of the current German Park playground.

Several activities are underway:

  1. In the near future, Shoe City intends to begin refurbishing the basketball court in German Park. Residents should see this work underway in August.

  2. Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) is leading a planning project that will create a new plan to upgrade German Park.  Basketball court plans developed by Show City will be integrated into this German Park plan. NDC is currently recruiting the volunteer team for the German Park design and expects an initial public design session this summer.  The German Park Plan will be incorporated into the over recreation initiative for funding.

  3. The Department of Planning will be working on budgets for the various components already planned, and working with us in developing plans for the other components.

  4. Conversations between the Department of Planning and the Department of Recreation & Parks over the latter assuming responsibility for German Park. This has been a long-standing desire, believing it more sustainable for German Park to be part of the Recreation & Parks system, allowing maintenance and capital improvements to be regularly implemented and better funded. For the first time, we are now cautiously optimistic about the possibility.  Recreation & Parks is willing, but are at present trying to figure out the details of how they make that happen.

Watch for opportunities in the near future to be part of the conversation about improvements to German Park, play sites in Penn North, and a play everywhere strategy connecting the recreation sites in the two communities.