Windmill Hill Park “Oasis” Reflects 30 Year Effort

The park clearly does sit as an oasis in this aerial view of Old Town.
Courtesy photo.

On November 17th, Mayor Allison Silberberg and other city officials officially opened the new Windmill Hill Park, a consolidated piece of property at 501 South Union Street that culminates a plan over twenty years in the making.

The result today represents five, separate parcels for which there was no comprehensive plan back in 1988, when Sara Cooper Masterson and the late Kirby Rodriquez led a citizen-based group asking that the property be combined into single entity that “would be developed minimally as a passive neighborhood and city park [that would] emphasize scenic easements [and] recreational opportunities” including a dog-walking area.

Masterson and Kirby developed the original plans, met with every civic and historic group in town over the years tweaking and changing and satisfying concerns, got the informal stamp of approval from then National Parks Director John Parsons and Alexandria City Manager Vola Lawson, and eventually a unanimous City Council approval in 1998.

The newly renovated Windmill Hill Park (501 S. Union St.) opened on Saturday, November 17, at 8:30 a.m. with remarks by the Mayor and other City officials, a ribbon cutting ceremony. Photo by Lucelle O’Flaherty

On June 12, 1999, the parcels were finally combined and the park officially dedicated Windmill Hill Park, a moniker that recaptured the mid-1840s when actual windmills worked upon that land. The journey continued when The Windmill Hill Park Shoreline Project was approved by City Council in 2015.

Today, the oasis boasts new bulkhead along the Potomac River with approximately 1,200 linear feet of living shoreline. Additional park improvements east of Union Street include new natural and pollinator-friendly habitat areas, a connecting waterfront trail from Ford’s Landing City Park to Shipyard Park, improvements to existing water access points, seating walls and picnic areas, renovation of the Gibbon Street outfall, and a renovated dog park with a seating area and water fountain for every member of the family (including four-legged ones). In addition, improvements were made to the Union Street sidewalk adjacent to the park and a mid-block crosswalk at the Wilkes Street Tunnel was added, consistent with the Union Street Corridor Study.

Marianne Marzo with Brodie, Sally and Skid Masterson, and Mayor Allison Silberberg at the re-opening of Windmill Hill Park. Photo by Lucelle O’Flaherty