Archive for March 9, 2018

Overview from DPR Basketball Meeting (Tournament is On) and Thoughts on DPR

March 9, 2018

On Wednesday March 7th, representatives from the Department of Parks and Recreation met with neighbors to discuss the annual Ty Hop Basketball Tournament. The basketball tournament has been held at the rec center since 2002, with no tournament in 2016. It was clear from the start that DPR is committed to continuing the tournament, but are open to feedback on days of the week, times, and length of the tournament (six weeks instead of 8 weeks?). Unlike years past, this year they are focusing the tournament for ages 15 years and younger instead of ages 24-40.

DPR has stated that they will organize a follow up meeting in 3-4 weeks to continue to work with the community on additional details for the tournament.

As in years past, the meeting centered on the need for a public safety plan in the community and concerns about gun violence. This is something that all in attendance who spoke up stressed — whether they were in favor of the tournament or not. Disappointingly, while MPD officers attended the meeting, they largely observed and offered very little, event when asked directly for their input.

The meeting, which began at 7 pm and wrapped up around 8:30 or so, was at times heated and emotional — with some citing the tournament as a valuable experience that helps bring people together and break down racism and bias — to others expressing concern that directly or indirectly gun violence has occurred around and near the rec center during tournament times and that no one should have to teach their children to duck and cover — and others still expressing that the tournament has a long history in the neighborhood and that those who have moved to the neighborhood need to accept that this is part of the community and to not push it out.

In my opinion, DPR can do a better job when it comes to working with the community to organize events. Here are three areas where I believe DPR has dropped the ball.

  1. An annual basketball tournament is fine and should be a community building event, however DPR continues to strike me as focusing only on being responsible for what happens on their property and relying on the community or MPD to control what occurs off their property. Technically, this may be where the responsibilities are, but we need to have a collaborative and integrated public safety approach for events that draw larger numbers of participants for longer periods of time. This is no different than other large events in the city whether it be the Funk Parade or a city festival.
  2. DPR repeatedly stated the longevity of the tournament as its justification for its continuation. As the tournament continues to have a large number of participants I can agree a basketball tournament still has value. However, the neighborhood has also changed a lot since 2002 when the tournament first began. Park View is far more diverse with many young families that equally value other activities. DPR needs to change and adapt along with the community — meaning that basketball should no longer be the only event at the Rec Center. Today the Rec Center needs to do this with a diverse summer program of actives. I don’t see DPR taking the lead on this.
  3. DPR needs to listen. Neighbors do advocate for activities they would like to see at the Rec Center in addition to what is offered now. For the past couple of years parents have repeatedly asked for the small children’s pool to open earlier on Saturday, and I sent Directer Anderson a letter to that effect from ANC1A last year. Similarly, when former Mayor Fenty and Councilember Graham first proposed to renovate Park View Rec Center’s baseball field with a new artificial turf baseball field in 2010, I pointed out that no one in the neighborhood played baseball and led neighbors to push for neighborhood servicing improvements which were delivered in 2012. DPR’s failure to listen before they make decisions sets up a contentious and divisive process before their first conversations with the community even occur. This needs to stop.

Ultimately we need a DPR that is a true community partner. One that is responsive, one that is engaged, and one that values the diverse and ever changing needs of every neighborhood.


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