By Hannah Himes | [email protected]
Angel Park has been a gathering ground for Alexandrians for around 70 years.
By 1955, it was in use as a small city playground, according to the 2015 city neighborhood parks improvement plan.
It is a 10-acre stretch of land located along West Taylor Run Parkway and Taylor Run itself, and today features a playground, picnic shelter and basketball court.
It also has a small baseball field used by some of the Alexandria Little League players: 8- and 9-year-olds from all over the city practice at Angel Park several times a week during the spring and fall seasons, according to Paul Miller, ALL president.
“A lot of people like Angel Park because it’s right in the middle [of the city],” Miller said. “Sometimes you might have … kids from [the] west side, kids from Del Ray, kids from Old Town. And so the field in the middle gets used the most, and that’s why Angel’s such a great field for us.”
The park gets its name from the land’s one-time owner, William J. Angel, who owned the property in 1939, according to old city maps.
The Janney House, the historic Alexandria home of a prominent Quaker family, is shown in the northern part of the current park in maps dating back to 1894, according to the 2015 plan. Two other homes from the time period were also documented south of the park.
Angel Park also has a Native American site within it, which was identified by city archaeologists. The improvement plan says the site dates back to the Archaic Period, between roughly 8,000 and 2,000 B.C.E. During excavations quartz flakes and “cobble quality” cores were found.
“Native Americans may have used the area around Taylor Run to prepare quartzite cores, which would later be used to make projectile points, blades and scrapers. Only one projectile point was found at the site: It was serrated and its stem had broken off,” according to the plan.
Angel Park was a Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant Recipient Park, according to the City of Alexandria website. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a federal program that “supports the protection of federal public lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and recreation areas – and voluntary conservation on private land,” according to their website.
The park is also part of the Adopt-a-Park program, and has been adopted by the Taylor Run Civic Association, which assists in cleaning the park throughout the year.
“Neighbors volunteer to clean the park regularly as part of an agreement with the city. We’ve been doing that for as long as I can remember,” TRCA President Ashkan Bayatpour wrote in an email.
The association also hosts events that allow neighbors to meet and get to know one another, Bayatpour wrote.
“[Angel Park] plays a critical role in building a strong community here. It’s a wholesome place where our families and friends walk their dogs and get outside on a nice day to spend quality time with one another,” Bayatpour wrote.
Recently, the park has faced some problems, including a large tree that had been cut down and not removed and a separate drainage problem, which is causing water to pool, creating a muddy, soggy section of land near the picnic shelter.
The tree was cut down due to its declining health, which posed a safety hazard to the public, Jack Browand, division chief of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities wrote in an email.
The pooling water is due to blockage of the stormwater drain, Browand wrote.
The city is aware of the problem and has “identified corrective action and the work will occur as soon as possible,” Browand wrote.
Work to fix the drainage problem will be coordinated between the Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities and the Department of Transportation & Environmental Services, Browand wrote in an email.
The work is planned to be completed in the late summer or early fall.
The wet winter, which left the ground soft and soggy, delayed removal of the tree. However, the tree was cleared from Angel Park on March 26 and the park is open to the public with “no loss of service,” Browand wrote.
The Alexandria Little League has not faced any problems due to the pooling water, nor from the tree before it was removed, because the baseball field is a good distance from both areas, Miller said.
“It’s a big field,” he said.