the Neighborhood Design Center

The Phoenix Run Park transformation results from a shared vision and the collaborative efforts of local businesses, community advocates and the Phoenix Park community who together reimagined what a park could offer a neighborhood, families, and the town of La Plata.

The Wills Group funded the project, supported by hundreds of volunteer hours across the Phoenix Park community. 

The park revitalization, which took two years to complete, now includes vibrant, art-inspired basketball courts, walking paths, and landscaping and seating areas that create a community destination for families. We supported this effort by providing project management and the park concept design for both the painting of the basketball courts and the surrounding landscape. 

The goal of the project was to broaden the range of people who felt welcome using the basketball courts and surrounding spaces. When the project began, the courts were dominated by adults. Youth in the community shared that they avoided the area, though we saw them playing elsewhere. 

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The community was engaged via a popup at the Back to School community event, where artist Donald Jay Ely of 3 Ring Studio offered color palette ideas for feedback and we asked community members about what inspires them - from songs to people to lyrics or poems. 

The bright and vivid artwork designed by 3 Ring Studio celebrates the phoenix, symbolizing the re-emergence of positive energy and possibilities in the Phoenix Run community.

Throughout the project, we worked with the Keep La Plata Beautiful Arts subcommittee, the Dorchester Community Center, and an anchor organization Stella’ Girls, a Blackowned 501c3 NPO empowering youth to become social change agents through mentorship, leadership development, and advancing the feminist movement.

“The dedication ceremony marked the culmination of an amazing two-year journey with Dorchester Community Center, Stella’s Girls, Neighborhood Design Center, and the Wills Group,” said Kaprece James, Founder and CEO of Stella’s Girls. “We made a concerted effort to listen to the Phoenix Run community through focus groups and roundtables. They were the ones who told us what they wanted, and the Wills Group truly delivered.”