With Safety in Mind, Friends of Volta Park Launch Fundraising Auction
By June 14, 2021 0 904•
An oasis in the heart of Georgetown, Volta Park on 34th Street NW is known for its storied past as well as its natural charms. In his Georgetown days, JFK played touch football there with his brothers and baseball with fellow senators. Great East vs. West softball games were a staple summer feature.
Yesterday, the Friends of Volta Park launched its annual auction fundraiser — virtually — to help restore the safety of the park’s baseball field which has suffered such severe erosion in recent years that the Northwest D.C. Little League had to stop playing there.
“We are excited to launch” the online auction, the FOVP announced. Participants “will be able to bid on fantastic experiences, boutique gift certificates and travel packages, anytime June 13 to 19… For decades, each June, friends and neighbors have gathered at the cocktail party and auction for the park’s biggest fundraiser of the year. While the pandemic forced us to cancel last year, it’s time to start navigating our new normal.”
Darcy Nauman, co-president of the FOVP, and Anna Delligatti, the group’s past president and current board member, gave a tour of the park and the eroding ball field recently. The swimming pool was reopened, the tennis and basketball courts were active and the school gardens were freshly planted. The shaded garden paths feature commemorative bricks used to raise funds for the park’s landscaping. “Hop on One Foot Here for Good Luck!” reads one of them.
The ball field, however, is less enticing. Since the drainage piping system broke down years ago, deep ruts have formed along the first base line on the south side of the park. One board member even took a picture of his child seemingly submerged in one of the sinkholes. Pockmarks, divots and uneven spots dot the field posing injury risks.
The challenge for the FOVP is that it depends on the city to help provide funds for the large expenses needed to repair the field’s turf, drainage and irrigation systems. “The costs to repair the drainage and field far exceed what our all-volunteer group” [can fundraise], said Nauman, adding that the pandemic has hindered the group’s ability to host live events.
Nauman and Delligatti expressed delight that Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto requested $700,000 from the city to help repair the field. However, the D.C. Council has yet to approve this request. So, the FOVP is calling on members and concerned citizens to send advocacy letters to the Recreational Youth Affairs offices of the Council before the council’s June 21 budget hearing on the issue.
Pinto told The Georgetowner: “We’re fighting for additional funding for Volta Park which needs a re-turf… Volta Park is a wonderful space for the community, and the [FOVP] is a great partner for the city. But it’s really imperative that the city demonstrate our commitment to that space by investing in a re-turf. The current status quo is unsafe and unacceptable.”
For Nauman and Delligatti, the issue is pressing. “What we have to do to get that money is to write emails — be loud — let them know that this is really a big issue for us, because the safety of the children is really paramount… The kids, they’re getting hurt… The more people who voice their views, the better. Hopefully, we can get this done for the community. So, the Little League can come back, and kids can have safe soccer games and stop getting injured,” Nauman said.
As a hub of the community, FOVP hosts a number of neighborhood events throughout the year. With the help of the Friends of Rose Park, it looks forward to starting a new farmers market in September. “Most people don’t have these huge backyards in Georgetown,” Nauman said. “So, as a community, this has always been a central place — the Fall Festival, the chance to meet Santa, the tree lighting, the Volta Park auction, you know, it’s just been a lovely community space.”
Nauman and Delligatti each have 2nd grade daughters at Holy Trinity School nearby, and they first met as moms at Volta Park. “I used to live on 34th and O St. when my babies were born. So, Volta Park was just part of my everyday life when the kids were young,” Nauman said. “Volta has always been just really special… I met my mom friends here who are like my best friends. One of my daughters took her first steps here. So, this park means so much…. And we want to keep it as beautiful as possible. That’s the mission of the Friends of Volta Park.”
To donate, visit the FOVP’s website — voltapark.org.