Fort Greble

by Jon Vimr

The entrance to Fort Greble, a small, paved path located off a mini cul-de-sac at the end of a crowded residential street, belies what is a fairly large, open recreational area that is likely thriving on days of better weather.  One of the furthest southeast of our nineteen sites, the fort’s entrance is found at its southern end where the visitor is met by the standard National Park Service sign. While this sign notes the Fort’s name and that it was/is part of the CWDW (or here, Fort Circle Parks), it functions as the only one at the park. As we know, many of the other parks have at least one additional sign depicting their respective fort’s plan and place in history along with the Fort Stevens photo of soldiers sitting on a cannon. Assuming that the park service does indeed want Greble to incite interest in and further visitation to the city’s civil war defenses, this fact is problematic.

Beyond this oversight, however, it is clear that considerable effort and attention is paid to Greble. The rectangular park can be divided into three parts: the southern third featuring some gentle earthworks and acting as the park’s strictly grassy, natural area, the central section with a number of paved basketball courts, a restroom facility, and a playground,  and the northern third that has been made completely flat and serves as a baseball field complete with fences and a scoreboard. A school (perhaps the primary user of the baseball field) is located immediately east of the baseball field with its rear end parking lot providing another access point to the park.

As one would guess given that it was 25 degrees and the park”s recreational facilities are outdoors, there was no one else using the park during our visit. But this in no way suggests that the park is not used. Even though organized school/community baseball will not begin for months the field was in good condition with only a bit of plant growth in the infield. And the basketball courts were perfectly clean (other than some water from the previous day’s precipitation) with little to none of the cracks usually found in paved public courts. Regardless of whether or not this maintenance indicates popular usage of the park, it does make it clear that the Park Service (or perhaps community groups acting on their behalf ) put in the effort to keep the Fort Greble site in good condition.

The main issues with the park lie in the fact that it is situated in a dense residential community and bordered by small, tight streets completely packed with automobiles. The location of these housing structures and the school placed so tightly on the park’s eastern end coupled with the western end’s steep drop off makes it difficult to imagine any expansion of the site’s boundaries. Given this and the fact that many of those living in the area are families, it makes sense that it has been developed into a community recreational area likely to attract youth. And for those who would rather not play baseball or basketball, the southern third allows space for picnicking, lounging, and other such activities on (much) warmer days.