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Mayor Bowser Kicks Off #BacktoSummer by Opening 2021 Outdoor Pool Season at Renovated Woody Ward Recreation Center

Friday, May 28, 2021
Mayor Also Celebrates DC Park System’s #1 National Ranking

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined residents to kick off the District’s outdoor pool season with the “Jump in, DC” celebratory event and cut the ribbon on the renovated and rechristened Woody Ward (formerly Benning Park) Recreation Center. The Mayor also announced Washington, DC regained its #1 spot as the top ranked park system in the country by The Trust for Public Land.

“DC is ready for summer and all the joy and DPR programming that it brings. We are especially excited that this summer we can reopen our pools and spray parks,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know that – because we invest in them and prioritize them – DC has fantastic outdoor spaces, playgrounds, and recreation centers. We’re happy to receive recognition for our park system, and even happier to deliver facilities like Woody Ward to our residents.”

DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) outdoor pools and spray parks will open Saturday, May 29, and remain open through Monday, May 31. Pools will operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday and Sunday) through Sunday, June 27. Starting Monday, June 28, all outdoor pools will operate on individual summer schedules, six days a week, from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. All DPR spray parks open Saturday, May 29 and operate daily thereafter, from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. DPR’s aquatic inventory includes 18 outdoor pools, 11 indoor pools, 33 spray parks and three children’s pools. For more information on the summer outdoor pool schedule, visit:

The newly renovated, $11 million Woody Ward Recreation Center is a two-story building with an outdoor pool and 24,000 square-feet of exterior and interior improvements. The project scope included adding an elevator to provide ADA accessibility from one floor to the next and ADA accessible exterior doors. There are now two different HVAC systems in the building. Other renovations include, new roofing, windows, paint, flooring, pool repairs and new filter, lighting, security cameras, new Wi-Fi, additional parking, and an overhaul on repairs.

“Woody Ward served the Benning Park community as an employee of DPR for 26 years, so it is very exciting for us to celebrate one of our own with this recreation center that is truly now part of his legacy,” said DPR Director Delano Hunter.

The Woody Ward Center is equipped with a new boxing ring and boxing circuit and an updated fitness center with new workout equipment. Other additions include a new gymnasium floor, new pool check-in, pool area drinking fountains, a new reception desk, and people counter to measure capacity. Upgrades included wall to wall mirrors in the dance room, a drop-down screen and projector multipurpose room and upgrades to the Arts & Creativity room. There is also a new kitchen with capacity to serve ready-to-eat meals.

Additionally, DOEE collaborated with DPR and the District Department of Transportation, using local and federal funds, to improve surrounding park spaces. Stormwater that once ran off the basketball and tennis courts, creating flooding issues, will now be captured and treated. Also, a redesigned “pocket park” replaces what was once a dead-end street with a tree-lined walking path that helps to better connect residents to the facility. These improvements reduce stormwater pollution to the Anacostia River, create new habitat for local wildlife, and provide natural amenities for residents to enjoy.

“The collaborative nature of this project demonstrates that Mayor Bowser’s commitment to sustainability can yield thoughtful and innovative projects that benefit residents and the environment,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “This would not have been possible without the engagement of residents, who provided continuous feedback so that the scope of the project fit their needs. This project truly serves as a model to how the District is a leader in urban sustainability.”

Woody Ward Recreation Center was designed by Moody Nolan and constructed by Chiaramonte Construction Company through DGS.

“When there is intentional collaboration between residents and government agencies, there is a drive to ensure a shared vision is reflected throughout the design and construction process of projects which allows greatness to be achieved, said DGS Director Keith A. Anderson. “Woody Ward held great expectations of the young people in his charge and we hope the new Woody Ward Recreation Center reflects his life-long mission of inspiring youth in Ward 7.”

Today’s ribbon cutting comes the day after Mayor Bowser released her Fiscal Year 2022 Fair Shot budget proposal, which includes $420 million over the next six years to improve parks, recreation facilities, and libraries.

  • Ward 2: $1M for the 26th & I Streets Playground; $74.2M investment in the modernization of the Francis/Stevens EC; $17.5M continued investment in the Chevy Chase Community Center; $21M for a new, expanded Jelleff Recreation Center
  • Ward 3: $17.5M to renovate the Chevy Chase Community Center; $3.5M investment to renovate the Duke Ellington field
  • Ward 4: $16M to renovate and modernize the Upshur Recreation Center and pool; $13M to renovate the Emery Heights Recreation Center; $12.3M to modernize Parkview Recreation Center
  • Ward 5: $19.7M to redevelop the Langdon Community Center; $19M to renovate and modernize the Harry Thomas Recreation Center; $20M invested in a new Community Center at the Crummell School site
  • Ward 6: $1.5M for Jefferson Field improvements; $1.5M for the Watkins Elementary School Playground; $6.8M for the Rosedale Pool Replacement; $15M to modernize and renovate Rumsey Aquatic Center project
  • Ward 7: $3.5M to modernize and renovate the Therapeutic Recreation Center; $12.4M to modernize and renovate the Fort Dupont Ice Arena; $22.5M to modernize and renovate Fort Davis Recreation Center
  • Ward 8: $20.1M to renovate the Parklands Turner Community Library; $13M to renovate the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center; $20.2M to renovate the Douglas Recreation Center