Field photo with logotype

Pinto Requests $1.5 Million for "Francis Field and Dog Park Expansion"

Posted: February 8, 2021.

The District government finally seems ready to make substantial improvements to—and changes in—Francis Field.

Brook Pinto photograph
Councilmember Brooke Pinto.

It has not done so since 2015, when the Francis Dog Park was hastily constructed on 7,500 square feet of land at the north entrance to the field.

This year, spurred by complaints from the nearby school about dangerous playing conditions, and other complaints to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission about dogs on the playing field, Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto is requesting $1,500,000 to fix the problems in her budget request to Mayor Muriel Bowser for fiscal year 2023.

"Dogs and people need separate recreation spaces to keep everyone safe, especially the day care children and DCPS [public school] students who use the field," Pinto said in a letter of February 3.

touch football players on field
Adult touch football on a muddy field, February 5, 2022.

She also wrote that the field is in "poor condition" and "needs to be repaired."

The athletic director at the Francis-Stevens School, located a few yards away on N Street NW, complained about dangerous holes when soccer practice for elementary and junior high school students was resumed last fall. (See related article on this site.)

The field also sees considerable adult use in most years, for which permits have been issued by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). There is also a substantial amount of unpermitted use that occurs, both by neighborhood dog owners and by adults who play team sports on something of a pick-up basis.

Little, if any, maintenance has been done to the field since 2017, when grass was planted with private funding. Overpermitting by DPR in 2018 and 2019, and lack of maintenance by the Department of General Services, has resulted in much bare dirt, which turns to mud in wet weather and dust in the dry season.

Headshot photo  of Joel Causey
ANC Commissioner Joel Causey.

Newly-elected leadership appears to be having a positive effect on needed improvements. Pinto was elected to the Council in a special election in 2020.

Also spearheading the call for field improvements and dog park expansion has been Joel Causey, the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for district 2A02 which includes Francis Field.

Causey was also elected in 2020, and took office in January 2021. Since then he has been fielding many of the complaints about the field and looking for solutions. In November he introduced a resolution in the Commission addressed to the directors of DPR and DGS, to expand the dog park, upgrade the maintenance, and "remodel" the field, adding irrigation.

Birdseye view of field in winter
A Winter Afternoon View, February 6, 2022.

He was pleased with Pinto's request for $1,500,000. "It's not a lot," he said. "But it's a start."

Exactly how the dog park might be extended, or what the expanded size will be, has not yet been determined.

Hearings on the Council's budget requests will take place in March. The District's 2023 fiscal year begins October 1, 2022, and ends September 30, 2023.

Repairs Underway Soon at Francis Swimming Pool

Unrelated repair and renovation is already going on at the Francis Swimming Pool at the far north end of the field.

This work includes replastering the pool itself, repairs to the leaking foundation, and replacing some decking.

A work area for the contractors has been established off the pool driveway, between the dog park and the pool. This, we are told, required the removal of "a couple of smaller trees," which will be replaced.

The pool is expected to open on time for the summer swim season.

Some restoration work on the exterior of the building and the front landscaping is also planned.

The present pool, bathhouse and pump house were built in 1992-1993 to replace the original Francis Swimming Pool which was opened in July 1928 as part of the District's segregated recreation system. It was the first public pool in the District of Colombia in which African-Americans were permitted to swim.

Copyright 2022 Friends of Francis Field