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Gunston Park playground and picnic area to get $1.2m renovation

The playground at Gunston Park is expected to be replaced starting late next year as part of a $1.2 million renovation project.

Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation has released two concept designs for the park, located at 1401 28th Street S., near Gunston Middle School. Residents can provide feedback on these designs online through Thursday, Oct. 19.

The impetus for the work is that the park’s playground area “has reached the end of its useful life” and all play equipment — as well as site furnishings and a picnic shelter — have to be removed, parks department spokesman Adam Segel-Moss explains in a video.

“This Parks Maintenance Capital project will include demolition, site work, and design and construction of a new playground and picnic shelter,” the county says on a project webpage. “This project will also address grading and drainage, site circulation, site furnishings, landscaping, and stormwater concerns.”

No new amenities are planned for the Capital Improvement Plan-funded project, the county adds.

The new playground will be in the northwest portion of park, next to a parking lot, diamond field and basketball court. Segel-Moss says DPR last heard from residents in February 2022 about what the new playground should look like.

“There was an overwhelming desire for new, soft and resilient playground surfacing within play areas,” he said.

People also requested more seating areas, trash cans, slides, swings and climbing structures and fencing, with separated play areas for the 2-5 and 5-12 age groups, he noted.

DPR will focus on improving accessibility for people with disabilities, catering to different age groups and making other upgrades, while overcoming “inherent limitations,” such as space constraints, tree preservation and drainage issues, Segel-Moss said.

“We have several other exciting prospects, such as creating spaces for different age groups, improving the picnic area and seating, enhancing the park’s visual appeal through enhanced plantings and addressing stormwater erosion issues,” he said.

The parks department has narrowed down these ideas to two concept designs.

The first concept for the new Gunston Park playground (via Arlington County)

The two share many of the same features, including new fencing, stroller parking and seating areas.

Some differences include the addition of sculptural benches in the first concept and, in the second concept, a “smaller but greater variety of play structures and a larger connected looping pathway,” Segel-Moss explains.

The second concept for the new Gunston Park playground (via Arlington County)

Although they are illustrative only, Segel-Moss also showed pictures of what the new play equipment and picnic shelters could look like.

The first shows hexagonal play structures for 2-5 and 5-12 year olds, swings, a pergola-style picnic area and sculptural benches.

Play equipment and site furnishing examples for Concept 1 (via Arlington County)

The second illustrates the addition of a climbing area for older children to other kinds of play equipment as well as a different style of picnic shelter.

Play equipment and site furnishing examples for Concept 2 (via Arlington County)

The questionnaire is open for two weeks and a final draft concept will be prepared for feedback this winter.

The Arlington County Board could review a contract in the fall of 2024 and, if the contract is approved, construction could begin that winter, ending in the fall of 2025.

Previous park renovations include converting the diamond field from grass to synthetic turf.

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