Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, my husband and I embraced nearby Druid Hill Park as an urban gem for outdoor recreation. We started playing tennis there, met friends for socially distanced outdoor hangouts, rode bikes in the wooded hills on the north side of the park, and volunteered to water trees for the city’s forestry division.
Druid Hill Park is one of the oldest public parks in the United States, and one of the grandest alongside New York’s Central, Philadelphia’s Fairmount, and San Francisco’s Golden Gate parks. (Druid Hill Park is nearly the same size as Central Park.) And it’s only a half mile from Bolton Hill’s northern border.
But when we bike or walk up Park Avenue from Bolton Hill through Reservoir Hill to go to the park, there are two shortcomings: accessing the park involves an unappealing and dangerous crossing of high-speed, wide Druid Lake Park Drive to get to there, and once inside the park, the lake itself has been fenced off and inaccessible.
Plans are afoot to change both impediments to enjoying the Park.
Plans unveiled last month show a dramatic reimagining of Druid Lake to create numerous ways for the public to interact with the lake. Previous lake access was restricted since it acted as a municipal reservoir, but the federal government ordered cities to enclose and cover their water supplies. That process is near completion.
After several public input sessions about which amenities the community wanted, the new rendering for the lake features a swimming section, a boating and kayak dock including a boathouse with a café, a fishing pier, a boardwalk traversing across the lake, an amphitheater and education center, and even islands. The proposal is not finalized, and there will be another public input session in Spring 2023. Construction is expected to begin around Spring 2024. Learn more by reading a news article about the plan or viewing the plan itself.
The large public pool in Druid Hill Park reopened this summer with new amenities. Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Transportation is working on a “Complete Streets” plan that would make Druid Lake Park Drive more appealing and safer to cross. That plan still is being finalized.
While Druid Hill Park already provides a beautiful, historic outlet for residents of Bolton Hill, proposed improvements to the lake and easier access will make it even better.
– Andrew N. Dupuy