The co-founder of the local gay group Stonewall Sports is circulating a petition opposing a proposal to renovate the Dupont Circle area’s Stead Park in a way that the group says would reduce the size of its sports fields by 25 percent.
Martin Espinoza states in his petition that a park renovation project proposed by Friends of Stead Park would “jeopardize current community leagues like soccer, volleyball, and kickball from using the fields.”
Espinoza, who is running for a seat on the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission, is one of the organizers of a gay kickball league that uses the park.
Friends of Stead Park is a non-profit group that has helped maintain the park through an endowment from the Stead family, which donated the land in which the park is located to the city about 40 years ago.
Friends of Stead Park invited members of the community to weigh in on the renovation proposal at a meeting scheduled to take place 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the D.C. Jewish Community Center at 16th and Q Streets, N.W.
Stead Park is located on P Street, N.W., between 16th and 17th Streets.
“We would like to see the limited funds being received be used to renovate the existing field with re-sodding, enhanced fencing, added benches and upgraded lighting,” Espinoza states in the petition.
Gay ANC Commissioner Jack Jacobson, who’s giving up his ANC seat to run for the Ward 2 D.C. school board seat, has expressed support for what he says is the park renovation proposal’s goal of expanding the number of people who use the park.
“I’m a member of the community,” Jacobson told the Blade. “I pay taxes. I don’t play kickball and I don’t play basketball. But I would rent a community garden plot or maybe utilize an amphitheater or picnic tables or a number of other things that don’t exist right now,” he said.
Adding more amenities to the park than just sports fields would benefit a greater number of people in the community, Jacobson and others supporting the renovation proposal have said.
Espinoza told the Blade retaining the current size of the sports field would not prevent other park improvements. The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation is expected to make the final decision on any significant changes for the park.