Mayor Muriel Bowser recently 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. Bowser also announced the District regained its #1 spot as the top-ranked park system in the country by The Trust for Public Land.

“D.C. 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,” Bowser said. “We know that – because we invest in them and prioritize them – D.C. 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.”

The District’s outdoor pools and spray parks 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 a.m.-6 p.m. The aquatic inventory includes 18 outdoor pools, 11 indoor pools, 33 spray parks and three children’s pools.

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.

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.

“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 Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter.

The recent 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 and includes: 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; and 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.

For more information on the summer outdoor pool schedule, go to

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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