National Recreation and Park Association Turns Overgrown Lot into State-of-the-Art Playground

Share Article

Local leaders and children mix it up on new playground equipment.

News Image
This is about understanding that parks can become the focal point in the revitalization of our blighted urban communities

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) along with DC officials and local community organizations hosted the official opening of the newest public playground located in Marvin Gaye Park in Northeast Washington, DC this past Thursday. In addition to DC and federal government officials and community organization representatives, the event attracted local residents and their children. Speaking at the event were the following:

  •     Barbara Tulipane, CEO National Recreation and Park Association
  •     Steve Coleman, Executive Director, Washington Parks and People
  •     Ximena Hartsock, Acting Director, District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation
  •     The Hon. Eleanor Holmes Norton, U.S. House of Representatives
  •     Howard Koh, M.D.,M.P.H., Assistant Secretary of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  •     Vincent C. Gray, Chairman, DC City Council
  •     Harry Thomas, Jr., Ward 5 Councilmember
  •     Yvette Alexander, Ward 7 Councilmember
  •     Rebecca Stamps, Community Organizer

NRPA along with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation and Washington Parks and People were largely responsible for the compete conversion of an overgrown vacant lot into a model playground for the Lincoln Heights and Richardson Dwellings neighborhoods. It was noted that these neighborhoods have lacked a playground for over 30 years. Members of NRPA partner members who contributed to the project include Playworld Systems and Surface America, companies that donated play equipment and the playground surface respectively.

As local children gleefully experienced the new playground to the accompaniment of Marvin Gaye's music, speakers at the podium extolled the virtues of this new facility.

"This is about understanding that parks can become the focal point in the revitalization of our blighted urban communities," said NRPA's Barbara Tulipane. "That's one of the reasons we are undertaking an 18-month research project with George Mason University and Washington Parks and People as part of NRPA's Parks Build Community campaign to measure the positive health, social and economic impact that parks and recreation areas have on local communities."

Steve Coleman expressed pride and optimism in the fact that over 50,000 volunteers have helped resurrect the park by removing tons of trash, planting trees, and maintaining the area "The community has turned away the drug users and dealers and reclaimed this area with a community center, an organic farmer's market, and now a state-of-the-art playground….and this is just the beginning, Coleman said.
Dr. Howard Koh described public parks as, "The place where public health happens. "We will use this playground as a prime example of success for the rest of the nation."

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton was enthusiastic in her praise of the park: "special and worthy of its namesake, Marvin Gaye."
The playground is located in Marvin Gaye Park (formerly Watts Branch Park), a 1.6 mile long area of green space located in Ward 7 that has historically been one of the most underserved in Washington in providing recreational spaces for the community. In addition to the playground, other additions and improvements to the park will include a new Marvin Gaye Amphitheater, a play garden, the restoration of Watts Branch stream and 1.6 miles of newly rebuilt hiker/biker trails.
For more information about the Parks Build Community initiative, visit

About The National Recreation and Park Association:

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national, not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 21,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources. For more information, visit


Jon Enten                
Enten & Associates, Inc.        
301-913-0010 EXT 118        
Jon (at) enten (dot) com

Richard Dolesh
rdolesh (at) nrpa (dot)org


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Richard Dolesh

Jon Enten
Enten & Associates, Inc.
Email >
Visit website