Are There Alternative Sites if WMATA Sells the 11th and Park Dog Park

WMATA put their site at 11th and Park Street, NW, on the open market in early January, 2019.

For much of 2018, intense focus has been on the parcel of land owned by WMATA at 11th and Park Road and used as an unofficial dog park since 2009. After many attempts by residents to convert the site into a permanent dog park, WMATA indicated that it was considering selling the parcel. In response, Ward 1 Councilmember Nadeau secured $1.5M into the District budget to purchase the property for the specific use as a dog park, but the amount fell short of WMATA’s estimate of $2.1M.

In early January 2019, WMATA officially put the land on the open market, and while the District is still welcome to put a bid on the property, all bidders are welcome to put their best offer forward. The issue of the dog park’s sale was discussed at the January 9, 2019, meeting of ANC1A and Councilmember Nadeau was there to answer questions. She stated clearly that any support from the ANC requesting Mayor Bowser to put forth a fair price offer to purchase the site would be helpful. Nadeau also shared that she had informed the Mayor not to get into a bidding war or to buy the property at any cost. By a split vote, the ANC voted to send notice to the Mayor requesting that she make a fair market offer for the property.

Considering these events, there is a good chance that the property may be sold to a private developer. Having been asked on several occasions what options may exist for a dog park other than the current site at 11th and Park, I’ve decided to list the top 5 sites that immediately come to mind or have been mentioned to me.

It is important to keep in mind for comparison that the 11th and Park site is approximately 8,046 sq. ft. of raw space, but if developed into an official dog park the usable land area is approximately 6,500 sq. ft. due to the WMATA infrastructure that needs to be maintained.

District Owned Properties

Option 1

In any discussion of alternative Dog Park sites, the Park Road Park is commonly referenced. As a triangle park in DPR’s inventory it really isn’t land that will be  developed — which is a good thing. Its already owned by the District and it has approximately 8,505 sq. ft. of usable land which are also pluses. However, it is also used for neighborhood block parties and events from the Park Road Community Church every now and then. Additionally, neighbors have been and are likely still opposed to the site being dedicated entirely to a dog park rather than open to multiple uses.

Option 2

Of the sites in this brief survey this is the one that excites me the most. While it is a quirky site locate to the northeast of Raymond Elementary and Raymond Recreation Center, it is district owned land that really has no other use. Like the Park Road Park, it is currently owned by the District and it has 8,439.6 sq. ft. of space. I like that it is next to a staffed DPR facility which could help with maintenance. I’ve also noted that some neighbors already use the front lawns of Raymond for their dogs and it might be nice to actually create official facilities here. On the down side, it is located in ANC4C and Ward 4, though just over the boarder, and would require cross-community collaboration. That said, it would create a dog park on District land that has no other real use. This is as close to a win-win as any alternative site can get.

Privately Owned Properties

All privately owned properties have the added complexity of requiring the sale of land, which the owners may not be interested in doing. The next three are listed here again in an attempt to show sites that could work, but may not actually be available.

Option 3

I’ve been fascinated by this double alley lot for a while. It is at the west end of the block bordered by Sherman, Lamont, Georgia, and Kenyon. The lots themselves are surrounded on all four sides by alleys. The site is smaller, being 6,051 sq. ft., and was likely originally a stable (existing buildings) for horses. Alley lots are hard to develop despite how they are zoned. Because of this, I’ve long felt that the District should buy this to add to DPR’s portfolio, and if not for a dog park perhaps for a community garden. It clearly has neighborhood potential in a number of ways.

Option 4

The vacant parcel on the north side of Girard Street (between 13th and 14th streets) is another possibility. It is 7,463.9 sq. ft. in size. The property was the home of Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff until a fire gutted the house in May 2012 leading to the property being cleared and vacant. The property is currently behind on its property taxes, so perhaps there would be interest in selling it to the District for a public purpose.

Option 5

This last one is a bit of a stretch. While it has 7,483.5 sq. ft. of useable land, it is zoned RA-2 making it more desirable for housing due to the higher density allowed. That would also translate into a higher asking price which is part of the issue with the WMATA site — which is Zoned MU-4. It is also owned by Trinity Property Holding Corporation of Washington (Trinity AME Church) along with the nearby parking lots, originally purchased for the goal of housing.

While these sites could be used to create a permanent dog park in the Columbia Heights community, there may be others. Do you have a suggestion to add to this list? Are there sites I have missed? And, if the District is able to buy the 11th and Park WMATA property, do you think they should pursue any of these sites for other uses?

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8 Comments on “Are There Alternative Sites if WMATA Sells the 11th and Park Dog Park”

  1. James Says:

    You cannot put a dog park in the alley between people’s homes. This is the most absurd suggestion imaginable. This would be incredibly inconsiderate and would lead to a lot of issues.

    • DVR Says:

      This is why investing more in the existing dog park at Upshur makes the most sense. Dog Parks can’t be extremely comtreversial. Why not upgrade a nearby existing one so it’s utilized more. It has so much potential.

  2. Olivia Says:

    The Park Road Park (Option 1 here) is used by all members of the community. As you mention, the church uses it, families have had children’s parties, neighbors have had cook-out’s, kids play soccer, etc. These events have been used to bring together both new members of our community and residents who have lived here for many generations. Its central location and high visibility mean it should stay looking nice and remain a resource for all members of the community.

  3. José Says:

    I vote for Wangari Gardens. Perfect plot of land for this.

    • José Says:

      Not the actual garden but the land adjacent to it.

      • B Says:

        There’s room for a dog park and a playground on the same triangle as Wangari Gardens. Is there some other plan for this property? If not, and regardless of what happens with the 11th and Park dog park, how can we propose to the city that they make this a proper park?

      • Bryan Says:

        Yes, another vote for the unused space near Wangari Gardens –

  4. DVR Says:

    Raymond Rec or upgrading the existing Upsher Dog Park makes the most sense to me. The Upsher Park is a mess. If it was as nice as the S Street Park in DuPont Circle more people, would use it. Huge space.


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