When the City of Alexandria purchased 3550 Commonwealth Avenue from Dominion Power, it had Open Space funding available and a goal of expanding park space, but they didn't really have a plan for it. What happened next though was something really magical.
Neighborhood volunteers teamed with city staff to forge ahead even in the face of economic troubles and budget crises. For just $200 it started to resemble a park, using only cast-off garden plants donated by neighbors and mulch ground up from cut-down, unhealthy, storm-battered trees formerly used to screen the old substation. For regular readers of The Arlandrian, this is not news. We documented the progress along the way with our stories: "Where Did THAT Garden Come From?" and "New Park Uncovered At Spring for Alexandria."
The tale of a community coming together is something that we are really amazed by and, frankly, more than a little proud.
And that gamble by citizens, that investment out of pocket and in blood, sweat and tears, didn't go unrewarded. Thursday they get their return. Dominion Power, already supporters of the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market through its Dominion Green outreach program, have stepped up to assist at the Reed Avenue Park as well. Here's Dominion's press release:
Dominion volunteers will work with City of Alexandria Department Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities and community volunteers to turn a former substation into a beautiful community park. Alexandria community volunteers began to create the neighborhood park by adding flower beds and a walking path. Dominion volunteers will help continue the transformation by replacing shrubs and trees that have signs of decay and rotting with new trees that will provide shade for park users expand the walking path and plant additional flowers in the garden.
The Dominion Foundation donated $2,500 to help with the project and more than 20 employees will spend part of the day volunteering. Thursday, October 27, 2011 8am–1pm.
When The Arlandrian stopped by early Thursday morning, the Dominion team was already well along. Throughout the day, despite the rain, the volunteers re-established the paths and garden started by community members last year. And with help from city crews, fresh mulch was laid from the last of the broken trees (the victims of all of the weather events over the last year or so). The city also matched the Dominion dollar contribution with additional plantings. All in all, four new maples, three crepe myrtles and 12 arborvitaes have now made the community gardening project into a bona fide pocket park.
The boost by Dominion and the city was exactly what the project needed to get the park to a place where community members can continue to build on and maintain.
Mayor Bill Euille rushed to the neighborhood between official duties to express the community's gratitude and appreciation to the crew during their lunch break. Still a work in progress, a story that is still unfolding, the Reed Avenue Park at 3550 Commonwealth Avenue is an incredible neighborhood accomplishment that continues to reflect the community pride.