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11th Street Bridge Park fundraising for final design competition

A rendering of a "potential" 11th Street Bridge Park

The 11th Street Bridge Park project director Scott Kratz held another community meeting on Tuesday at the Academies at Anacostia to go over Anacostia residents' wishes for the project. The park project has been in the planning and fundraising stages for about a year now. Fundraising is happening right now for the final park design competition, which should occur sometime in early 2014, says Kratz.

"We only have one chance to do this, so we wanted to do it right," says Kratz, who works as vice president of education at the National Building Museum during the daytime. "We need about another $100,000 to launch that."

The nearly three-acre park will span 900 feet edge to edge on the downstream side of the new 11th Street Bridge—set for completion in the next few months—and measure about 120 feet around the piers of the new bridge. Kratz is working with the D.C. Planning Office, who have partnered with THEARC arts center in Southeast Washington for this project.

Last summer the group asked the Summer Youth Employment Program to work with local architects to come up with designs for the park and the youths came up with some "amazing" designs.

"When I close my eyes and picture the park, I still see some of these amazing models these youths presented," says Kratz. "Especially this one where the youth had water pulled in from the river, cleaned, [used to] irrigate the park, and then put back into the river."

Kratz says there are five core elements he keeps hearing from residents, community and church leaders, and business owners on both sides of the river: Performance space, environmental education, urban agriculture, a super awesome playground, and some form of engagement in the river.

The park will have an amphitheater space for concerts and festivals to really make it a destination for the city, like the Hatch Shell on the esplanade in Boston. The park will also be a place for education, with an environmental education center where the public and charter schools can bring their students to learn about the river and take steps toward learning how to clean it. And while Kratz says they are not looking to have a community garden or produce any fruits or vegetables, they do want to incorporate some urban agricultural elements into the plans, like a place for harvest festivals and educating the public about healthy eating habits. Another important element of the park will be the "super awesome playground" that will be accessible for children with special needs. Residents also want to see steps or some access leading to the waterway with kayak, paddle boat or other boat classes and/or rentals.

"The idea is you'll care more about the river if you get in it," says Kratz. "No one else is renting [boats] on the Anacostia, you have to go up all the way up to Bladensburg (Maryland) for that."

Kratz has been volunteering for the last two years on this project and says it's going to probably be another four years before the park is finally completed. The group needs to fundraise about $35 million for the park to come to life--$25 million for construction and another $10 million in endowments.

Kratz will be speaking again about the park at the Ward 8 Parks Committee, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 18 from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. at 2100 MLK Ave. SE.

Read more articles by Lisa Spinelli.

Lisa Spinelli is Elevation DC's development editor as well as a freelance journalist, copy editor and mother of two. After receiving her Master of Science in print journalism from Columbia University in 2004, Lisa worked across the country and in Italy as a journalist, editor and Web editor. Her website LisaSpinelli.com has links to a smattering of her published clips.
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