Fort Ward Park


The Oakland Cemetery located in Fort Park is now on the National Historic Registry.
The City placed tick traps in Fort Ward Park.
The archeological excavations in Fort Ward are underway but not very successful. Thirty new trees have been planted, and the removal of fencing may begin soon.
No additional human remains were found in Fort Ward Park, so the storm-water mitigation plans are being implemented. Trees will be planted in the Park this spring. More than 50 have been lost and not replaced since the start of efforts to develop a plan in 2006.
SHA's representative, Tom Fulton, to the Ad Hoc fort Ward Management Plan Implementation Monitoring Group said the good weather has allowed the archeological digs to happen faster than expected and no remains have been found so far. If none are, the storm-water mitigation plans will be implemented.
SHA Area 6 representative Tom Fulton and SHA's representative on the Ad Hoc fort Ward Management Plan Implementation Monitoring Group described the work done so far in the Park and what is continuing to be done - such as archeological digs - before storm water mitigation can be implemented.
City staff performed general repairs to the playground equipment in Fort Ward Park.
Construction on the handicapped walkway in Fort Ward Park has finished and the parking lot is reopened. Come spring, more efforts may be made to locate graves that are lost.
The main parking lot in Fort Ward Park is closed and other parking spaces are reserved for contractors for repair work to the earthen fort. Not sure when this project will end and the parking lot will be available again. Another project, perhaps this winter, is stump grinding - over 60 trees have come down in the past decade - to be done in low sensitivity areas (see City website for a map of what areas are deemed to have little historic significance).
The Fort Ward Advisory Committee approved the Fort Ward Management Plan on September 10 and it will go before City Council on October 28.
The final draft of the history of the community that lived in Fort Ward Park and was forced to move next to TCW - Finding The Fort - A History of an African American Neighborhood in Northern Virginia, 1860s-1960s - is available on line at the City's website. It is long and dry with lots of footnotes. The City's choice of Krystyn R. Moon to write this history was questionable.
The Office of Historic Alexandria is circulating a draft of the history of the community in Fort Ward Park-287 pages with 500 pages of footnotes-that recognizes the contributions of current residents to this record.
City staff presented its Drainage Master Plan for Fort Ward Park that actually only addresses concerns in one-third of the park. The City proposes spending a half-a-million dollars on three improvements that would be completed by 2016: berms adjacent to the cemetery for $80,000, an expensive filter in the parking lot, and the construction of "stream pods" to slow the flow of the water in the stream. Problems not addressed: cleaning out the existing pipes that are clogged with debris and dirt-especially the one by the playground-the removal of the gravel from the maintenance yard, and the replacement of more than 50 trees that have come down in the past decade (since the City began to develop its plans). A MOU exists about maintenance in the park but no one is in charge of getting City staff to do it. Comments on the drainage plan can still be made on the City website.
Two plans for Fort Ward Park - the Park and Museum Management Plan and the Master Drainage Plan - are under discussion with residents. One would hope the drainage plan would be part of the management plan. Meetings about both are often moving targets. As with all plans, funds to implement may be problematic.
The City will present its draft plan for Fort Ward Park to residents on Wednesday, January 22, at 7 pm in Fellowship Hall of the Oakland Baptist Church.
The memorial park in Fort Ward that is dedicated to the City’s first arborist Charles Hendryx was restored finally. Shrubs were trimmed and broken benches and tree limbs hauled away.
Rumor reported that the City is discussing the idea of transferring ownership of Fort Ward Park to the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority.
The Ad Hoc Fort Ward Park and Museum Area Stakeholder Advisory Group is slated to resume monthly meetings at Minnie Howard School. Items on the agenda include storm-water problems and marking freemen graves.
Some loud parties in the park in June, rest of summer under control.
Sharon Annear, who lives in SHA Area 5 by the hospital, was appointed to serve on the Ad Hoc Fort Ward Park and Museum Area Stakeholder Advisor Group. The SHA Board of Directors recommended her to City Council.
The City has hired a consultant to develop a storm water management plan for Fort Ward Park.
With the resignation of Tom Fulton from the Fort Ward Advisory Group, SHA has a vacancy to fill.
The City is looking to hire a consultant to develop a storm water management plan for Fort Ward Park. A previous plan done in 2008 recommended the City stop directing storm water from West Braddock Road into the park, where it then runs down to the storm-water structures near Van Dorn Street. SHA has asked for a solution for more than five years.
The City hired a consultant to develop a management plan for Fort Ward Park.
Tom Fulton --chairman of the Fort Ward Park & Museum Advisory Group--noted that 43 graves were identified so far in Fort Ward Park, with more likely to be identified in the future. He also said that an ADA walkway is planned from the fort gateway to the battery.
Tom Fulton advised that efforts to locate graves in Fort Ward Park are not over but the focus has shifted to controlling flooding. Civil War artifacts are on display at the Archaeology Museum, 105 N. Union Street, Studio 327.
City staff indicated that two additional graves were located adjacent to the road that leads to the nursery and maintenance area. They continue to look for graves that were identified by the Young family during oral history interviews. This brings the total number of graves found within the park itself not in the Church’s cemetery to 38. The results of this research and future studies will help determine how these sacred places will be managed in the future.
Tom Fulton reported that progress is being made on locating additional graves and recovering Civil War artifacts, such as bullets and buckles. A lovely brochure about Fort Ward is now available. When bothered by loud music in the park, call the police nonemergency number—703-838-444—and they will check to see if the group has a permit for music and warn them about volume restrictions. The second complaint should result in the removal of the groups permit and the music.
The City failed in its first plan to control flooding in Fort Ward Park and will not try again until the end of 2013. Additional improvements were postponed until the completion of the park management plan, which is not expected until September 2013. Funding for these plans at that time is not assured. These plans were recommended by City Council in 2011 and involve the management of water runoff from the park and residential lands into the Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery, which is surrounded by the park on three sides.
Congratulations to the Fort Ward History Group that City Council recognized with the 2011 Ben Brenman Award for Outstanding Community Research. Accepting the award on behalf of the community group, which includes over 100 members, were Elizabeth Drembus, Frances Terrell, Lena Rainey, Adrienne Washington, and Glenn Eugster. The award was "in recognition of their painstaking research on the history of Fort Ward, for producing a repository of historical information on the occupants of The Fort, and African American community, and on the Seminary area, for two years of meetings to share information, question the origins of The Fort and discuss research thus greatly aiding in the archaeological study and preservation of Fort Ward, as a fuller interpretation of the park as a significant African American historic place.”
The Chairman of the new Fort Ward Advisory Group—SHA Area 6 Representative Tom Fulton—reported that the group is organized and beginning funded projects: archaeological work on 27 more graves $150,000, stormwater mitigation work was completed $85,000 and additional funding of $500,000 is needed for final solutions, and a plan for park management will be designed for about $110,000.
Tom Fulton reported that the new Fort Ward Advisory Group met and will proceed with a number of projects: archaeological work, a park plan, and storm water mitigation.
The City appointed the new Fort Ward Park and Museum Area Ad Hoc Stakeholder Advisory Group. Congratulations to Tom Fulton, the Seminary Hill Association, Inc., representative, Frances Terrell of Seminary Civic Association, Glenn Eugster, James Walpole, Ripley Forbes, Linda Ries, Robert Moir, Bill Schreiner, Chuck Ziegler, Philip voorhees, Adrienne Washington, and Lena Rainey.
The City’s Transportation & Environmental Services Department began a new drainage project in Fort Ward Park.
The FY 2012 City Budget fully funded—$260,000—recommendations for improving Fort Ward Park that will be used for archaeological investigation, mitigation of storm water runoff, and the development of a master plan for the park. Hurray!
The SHA Board of Directors approved a letter to the Mayor and City Council asking to fully fund all of the recommendations of the Advisory Group; especially the archaeological investigation, the mitigation of storm water runoff, and the development of a master plan for the park.
Project Discovery Alexandria is sponsoring a walkathon in Fort Ward Park from 8-10:30 am. For more information call (703) 746-5970 or go to
The Mayor and City Council held a work session on the recommendations for the management of Fort Ward Park prepared by the Advisory Group and may increase the amount in the FY2012 budget to about $300,000 to cover the cost of all of the recommendations not just the $75,000 that the City Manager proposed for archaeology studies. No decision about developing a master plan for the park.
SHA Treasurer Jack Sullivan spoke to the Mayor and City Council during the open mike session in favor of funding all of the recommendations of the Fort Ward Park Advisory Group.
As a citizen, Nan Jennings wrote to the Mayor and City Council in favor of fully funding the Fort Ward Park recommendations in the FY2012 Budget.
The Fort Ward advisory Group approved the report Recommendations for the Management of fort Ward Historical Park but the City has no money in the budget to implement the archaeology studies needed before the storm-water management can be implemented (some funding is available for this already).
Citizens and City staff continue to discuss solutions to problems in Fort Ward Park that will prevent degradation of the park by overuse, control storm-water runoff, and preserve all of its history. The original Fort Ward Advisory Group headed by SHA resident Tom Fulton is almost finished with its mission. Historical aspects of the park sparked the formation of additional groups including the Fort Ward Park History Work Group and the Fort Ward and Seminary Descendants Society. The City is likely to establish another group to develop a master plan for the park. SHA Area 6 Rep Glenn Eugster writes the “Fort Ward Observer” and has set up a
City staff (likely Rich Baier) was to present a grant proposal about managing storm-water runoff to the Fort Ward Advisory Group.
The City has funded archaeology and historical research for only one of the three years needed to complete the survey of Fort Ward Park. Glenn Eugster noted there is a disconnect between what the City is planning for the park and what the community would like. The City said it was waiting for the archaeological studies to be complete before implementing a storm-water management solution. The "no mow" policy in the park was a cost saving measure that slowed storm water, according to the City.
Tree damage in Fort Ward Park continued this summer—as of 10 June, 22 trees were down—including those from storms in late November 2009 and February 2010. The City removed some of the trees in July and August but has yet to repair the damage they did to the Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery.
The park also suffers from erosion and flooding. The City began a practice of "no mow" in an effort to control stormwater that resulted in public recreation areas not being mowed and offering habitat for rodents and weeds. The new mowing plans included moving funding for mowing the historical areas into the regular park maintenance fund. The grass in the historical areas of the park must be mowed differently from the rest of the park to preserve the earthen walls and eliminating this special fund resulted in untrained mowers with the wrong equipment damaging the fort walls.
SHA efforts to develop a master plan for Fort Ward Park are complicated by the number of groups involved with various aspects of the park: the historical fort, the recreation area, the Old Grave Yard owned by the City, and the cemetery owned by Oakland Baptist Church. The City's responsibilities in the park fall under different departments: Office of Historic Alexandria, Recreation Parks & Cultural Activities, Transportation & Environmental Services, the City Arborist, and Archaeologist. Citizen efforts are also divided among groups: the Fort Ward Advisory Group, the Friends of Fort Ward Park, and the park users.
A public meeting on the plans for Fort Ward Park was held at the same time as the SHA monthly meeting. SHA had sent a letter with recommendations for the Advisory Group and will continue to press on matters included in the April 23 letter.
The SHA President prepared a letter to the Fort Ward Advisory Group regarding management of the park. It asked that a Board Member become an official member of the Advisory Group, thanked the City for improvements in park uses, and expressed more than three concerns that City staff has not included the public in decisions about plans, that no development of a mission statement, and that continuing flooding problems.
Ft. Ward Advisory Group meeting including presentations by museum curator Susan Cumbey about interpretive themes and exhibits and the dearth of funding and staffing. The museum staff noted a need to better accommodate busses in the parking lot. Beginning April 3, City staff will supervise the park patrons on weekends.
Special meeting of the Ft. Ward Advisory Group at which City managers—Jim Spengler and Lance Mallamo—addressed the challenges their departments face in managing Fort Ward Park.
Citizens met with Vice Mayor Kerry Donley about the water problems in Ft. Ward Park, especially impacting the cemetery of the Oakland Baptist Church.
Thursday, January 28 meeting about water problems in the park that impact neighboring residential property. Vice Mayor Kerry Donely plans to attend: 7:30 pm at Glenn Eugster’s home, 4022 Ellicott Street, Alexandria.
Preliminary results of a ground penetrating radar survey at Fort Ward Park and its African American neighborhood indicated 31 possible burial locations outside the fences of the Oakland Cemetery, according to the City’s Office of Historic Alexandria.