On the corner of Third and L street sits NoMa’s newest green space.
Swampoodle Terrace–a snug park replete with chess tables, small rolling hills, and a repurposed shipping container as an entertainment area–opened its gates to the community this month.
A public vote on the name of the park was held in March this year, and ever since, the opening has been a long-anticipated tease.
‘Swampoodle Terrace,’ a name paying tribute to the neighborhood’s Irish immigrant past, was the final selection.
The newly opened park is also one of the final pieces of the long-term plan that the NoMa Parks Foundation (NPF) launched nearly eight years ago.
“The NoMa Parks Foundation addressed a big question, which was how can we bring a green space and recreation space to a location that’s considered landlocked by concrete,” said Tiffany Moore, deputy director of Capital Construction Services, at the opening of the park Oct. 19. “Well, the vision was cast, and the answer is right here.”
Robin-Eve Jasper was one of the leading architects behind the neighborhood’s push for more green spaces.
Jasper has worn several hats in leadership in the neighborhood. She was the former president of the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) and the current president of the NoMa Parks Foundation. She has held that position since 2012.
Jasper’s seen it all when it comes to the evolution of the neighborhood.
“I’ve seen it go from empty lots with no sidewalks and a scattering of, you know, old, mostly unused warehouses to what it is today,” she said.
But early on, Jasper noted the void left by the absence of civic spaces where the community could come together, hang out and be active in NoMa. The NPF struck a public-private partnership with the District of Columbia governments, and in 2013, former Mayor Gray included $50 million for NoMa parks and public spaces in the District’s capital budget in the fiscal year 2014.
In May 2013, the D.C. Council unanimously approved that funding, per the NPF website.
Jasper said the guiding question all these years as they’ve approached planning has been, “How do we build community?”
To this end, the NPF held community meetings pre-pandemic, with regular turnouts of 60 to 100 members. The discussions ensured public participation in the projects, from naming to design.
“It’s been a lot of fun to see how that plays out; in everything from park design and involving the community and people kind of forging bonds through that,” said Jasper.
While the success of the new Terrace is yet to be seen, if its name twin across the street is any indicator, it is sure to be a community favorite. Opposite Swampoodle Terrace is another of the NPF’s projects, Swampoodle Park which opened in 2018.
And a sunny fall day is the perfect time to capture the success of that community space. A pack of excited dogs runs around the manicured grass as their owners huddle around, chatting.
Chris DiLullo, the owner of five-year-old poodle mix Sparky and two-year-old bernedoodle Bo, is a daily visitor to the park.
“I like the green space inside the city to like to hang out in. It makes you feel a little less closed in on,” he said.
Wall-halla, a vertical obstacle course for children, flanked one side of the park. It’s the perfect after-school activity for the two boys Belle Evans babysits.
“They don’t have a backyard because it’s (their home) in the city. So, it’s really nice for them to be able to run around,” she said.
While Joe McCann’s one-year-old daughter, Claudia, is not old enough for the wall-halla yet, she’s sat smiling, across the street, on the soft grass mounds of Swampoodle Terrace.
“I expect we’ll be here a few times a week,” said McCann.
McCann, a resident of NoMa, is also a member of the ANC 6C Environment, Parks and Recreation Committee.
With the opening of the Terrace wrapped up, both Jasper and McCann are already looking forward to planning more community spaces in the neighborhood. But first, a thorough analysis of all that’s been accomplished over the past few years.
“We’re doing it (a report) to actually document the experience over the last ten years and what lessons were learned,” said Jasper.