James Hunter Park, which reopened in 2013 following a $1.6 million renovation, has been recognized as the “Best New Facility” in the parks category by the Virginia Recreation and Park Society.
The Clarendon park, which has facilities for both dogs and humans, was called “a model for today’s urban parks” by the society.
“From using rainwater for irrigation to solar power to native plantings to increasing the urban tree canopy, this park is at the forefront of environmental sustainability,” the group said, according to a county press release.
“It’s wonderful that James Hunter Park was recognized,” Arlington County Parks and Recreation Director Jane Rudolph said, in a statement. “Its development was very important to the County. We were able to turn an empty lot in a very urban corridor into something that the community really values and enjoys. This recognition by VRPS makes it even more special.”
The honor was bestowed by a jury of statewide park and recreation professionals, who based their decision on criteria like “innovative nature of the facility design, funding, construction,” “effectiveness in addressing the goals as defined in terms of community needs” and “efficiency in use of resources.”
Detractors of the park have said it was too expensive and doesn’t have enough shade.
The county’s description of the park, located at the corner of N. Herndon and 13th Streets, after the jump.
The park includes a plaza area for picnics, a path meanders through the park where you can view native plantings in a demonstration garden and open grassy area for active park-goers and a dog park area that allows dogs to run off leash. Within a few blocks of James Hunter Park you’ll find housing, retail and office space. The park is an easy go-to destination for people who work or live in Arlington. Its diverse features have something for everyone.
James Hunter Park is the epitome of a sustainable park. The water management system collects and purifies rainwater from the entire site and stores it in a large underground cistern. From there, it can be used to maintain a constant supply of water for irrigation. Further, its passive subsurface irrigation system uses capillary action to deliver water and nutrients to plants through a series of inter-connected chambers. To add to its efficiency, the system will be automated, using pumps and monitoring equipment to reduce unnecessary or excessive over watering and conserve water. What’s more, solar energy provides power to the irrigation and water management system, as well as the fountain, lighting and displays. The park utilizes permeable paving surfaces and incorporates recycled materials in the construction.
Community Led Consensus
Starting in 2007, the Department of Parks and Recreation led an extensive civic engagement process to develop the park master plan, which included connecting with the neighborhoods, adjacent residential properties, Clarendon Dogs, and the Clarendon Alliance. Based on this feedback the concept was presented and adopted by the County Board. “The success of this park is based on the extensive community engagement we had,” added Rudolph. “Public space is at a premium in our urban corridor. We listened to our stakeholders. We heard from people who live in Arlington, work in Arlington, those with dogs and those without, businesses….everyone. And together we were able to develop a park that is packed daily and teeming with community connections.”