Archive for September 2019

Do You Support Adding Street Trees to the 800 Block of Princeton Place, NW?

September 30, 2019

As anyone who has lived in Park View for a while knows, we have a lot of hot, treeless streets due to a lack of planning when the neighborhood was originally building out. I have had numerous conversations over the years with neighbors who would like to see more trees, and have worked to get more spaces for street trees where ever I find an opportunity.

While out walking last week, it dawned on me that an ideal place to add more trees could be the 800 block of Princeton Place, NW. While it is a short street with only two rowhouses on it, I think every treebox we can create improves the entire neighborhood.

The 800 block of Princeton Place has conditions favorable for adding trees in public space.

What makes the 800 block of Princeton Place promising for adding tree box bump outs is its width and configuration. Currently, it is designated as a one-way street (east bound). It also currently does not allow parking on either the north or south side of the street (although I have seen people park on the south side on more than one occasion). The street is also just over 35 feet wide, meaning that is is over built for the two lanes of traffic it allows.

Measurment in ArcGIS indicates that Princeton Place is 35 feet wide, more than enough for two lanes of traffic and tree box bump outs.

An onsite visit to the street along with reviewing maps indicates that there may be utility infrastructure on the south side of the street, so that leaves the north side open to potential reconfiguration — which is actually better as southbound New Hampshire buses turn onto Princeton Place to travel north on Georgia Avenue.

Below is a rough outline of where curb bump outs could occur on the north side of the street. Depending upon tree selection and planting location, this should create room for 4 to 6 new trees.

Bump outs on Princeton Place could create room for 4-6 new trees, depending upon tree selection and planting location.

While cost is always a factor, when I mentioned this opportunity to some folks at DDOT during a recent meeting, there was some excitement about this. Narrowing the street would improve vehicular safety, narrowing the crossway at Georgia would improve pedestrian safety, and the new trees would increase the overall tree canopy — all DDOT goals.

So what are your thoughts, shall we make this a priority in 2020?

 

Hot Spots in Park View are MPD Priority; Non-police Services Need to Step Up

September 27, 2019

Violence, and in particular gun violence, in Park View is something that many residents are deeply concerned with right now and with good reason. With 4 homicides in the neighborhood compared to 1 in 2018, crime has become notably more deadly — not just in Park View, but also in Columbia Heights and other neighborhoods across the city. Many neighbors question just what is being done to restore public safety in the community, and what is being done to address longstanding problem areas like the 600 block of Newton Place, NW. In order to get a better handle on how crime in Park View is being addressed, I met with MPD’s Patrol Chief Lamar Greene and the Fourth District Commander Randy Griffin to discuss what MPD is doing, and where other agencies or services may be falling short.

For context, I am including the 2019 year-to-date data for violent crimes report from DC Crime Cards below. While it shows overall violent crime is down, it also shows significantly that homicides and robberies are up in the neighborhood. It is also important to note that shots fired with no victim is typically not a category represented in the results, so this isn’t truly an accurate snapshot of gun events.

Violent crime in Park View for 2019 year-to-date (captured on 9/27/2019)

Following the shooting on the evening of Tuesday, September 24th, PC Greene shared the following:

Our team has and will continue patrols in the very challenging areas of [the] 600 blocks of Newton, Princeton and Park Morton.  The team has made many arrests in that area working along side our citizens.  The victim has even been arrested within the block as well.  Our investigative team is working the case and will determine all facts leading up to this shooting.  I will keep you all informed as the investigation progresses.  The Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, Commander Griffin and the Fourth District members will continue their efforts in this area.

Adding to this, Commander Griffin responded:

I can assure you that there is regular patrol in the area and the officers have been very busy.  In the past 6 months my team has affected 18 gun-related and drug-related arrests specifically in the 600 blocks of Morton St., Newton Pl, and the 3500 block of Georgia Ave.  My patrol members will continue their efforts and will investigate, apprehend and arrest the individuals in the area who have shown a blatant disregard for public safety.

What is particularly interesting with the latest shooting is that the person who was shot on Tuesday night had been arrested days prior as one of the people responsible for the significant graffiti that was painted in the area of 6th and Newton Place on September 13th. He was also the target of the shooting.

This provides insight into the broader challenge that exists when it comes to public safety and violent crime. MPD has made the trouble spots in Park View a priority, they are patrolling the problem areas, and making arrests. What appears to be broken are 1) Sentencing Guidelines and the court system; and 2) The need for non-police agencies and service providers to step up and deliver on their promises.

To provide an idea on why patrols and arrests alone, while helpful, don’t seem to be making the impact many in the neighborhood expect, here are the 2018 Homicide Victim and Known Offender Statistics as pulled in January 2019.

79% of 2018 homicides were firearms-related

2018 Known Offenders

  • 93% have an arrest history in DC. The average number of arrests per offender (adult and juvenile) is 10.
  • 49% had prior gun arrests.
  • 43% were under some sort of supervision at the time of the homicide.

2018 Homicide Victims

  • 82% have an arrest history in DC. The average number of arrests per victim (adult and juvenile) is 10.
  • 45% had prior gun arrests.
  • 36% of the victims were under some sort of supervision at the time of the homicide.

In short, this indicates that a relatively small number of individuals are repeatedly involved in homicides, and those who are either the perpetrator or victim of a homicide has a significant history as a repeat offender.

In relation to this, it was noted that residents who want to see violent crime go down, and who may be frustrated with the revolving door of the court system, may want to review DC’s sentencing guidelines and advocate for updating guidelines if they are misaligned. DC has local control of the sentencing guidelines. The value of Community Impact Statements were also noted, and there is a general sense that they do make an impact at sentencing.

I think it is important to note that no one I have talked to is dismissing the value of social services and violence interrupters, but it is also important to understand that the work they do requires a significant investment of time to build relationships, they will not be able to connect with everyone, and success may be difficult to prove as success is often a non- event (i.e., a shooting that didn’t happen). It is also notable that in order for intervention to work, there needs to be something better to offer.

This is why equal effort and investment from the Department of Behavioral Health and the Department of Employment Services (DOES) (to name two) also needs to be a focus for blocks like Newton Place. Participation in DOES’s Summer jobs program has resulted in permanent full-time jobs in places like the Department of Public Works — and job training and employment is something that has come up frequently in the discussions I’ve had with community members and Park View Rec Center staff familiar with the young people that are either involved or impacted by violence in the community.

Ground Maintenance Request Now Possible Via 311

September 25, 2019

On September 13th, the Department of General Services announced that residents can now request mowing, fallen tree removal, and hedge trimming for District properties via the city’s 311 system due to a new partnership with the Office of Unified Communications (OUC). This partnership now allows residents to use the District’s 311 Call Center  to request grounds maintenance services for District-owned properties including schools, municipal facilities, and parks and recreation centers.

DGS manages approximately 840 buildings within the District’s owned and leased properties. Users of DC 311 should provide as much information as possible to ensure DGS can complete the ‘grass mowing’ request in a timely and accurate manner, contingent on weather conditions. DGS aims to maintain grass levels at approximately 3 inches, with the exception of ‘no mow’ areas. While mowing season for the District will conclude on October 1, DGS will continue to respond to other requests for grounds maintenance. Additional information on District grounds maintenance services performed by DGS is available here.

Mowing the park at Park Place and Rock Creek Church Road, NW.

Bruce-Monroe @ Park View School Organizes Climate March & Host’s Fall Fundraiser

September 24, 2019

Climate March

Here are some updates about what’s been happening at the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View Elementary School on Warder Street.

On Friday, September 19th, the school organized a climate march around Park View. Grades 2 through 5 participated, they made signs, and chanted a chant that they had made up – “hey hey, here we are, we’re supposed to save the world.” See the photo below.

Fall Fundraiser

The School is also in the process of their Fall Fundraising Campaign. Those wanting to participate can do so at https://www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/charity/1431157

The fundraising goal is $7,000.

Here is an example of how the money from last year’s fundraiser was used:
Last year’s fundraiser supported the 3rd-grade’s 2019 field trip to Flag Ponds Nature Park and Battle Creek Cypress Swamp County Sanctuary in Calvert County, Maryland.

In just one day, the schools budding 3rd grade scientists:

  • searched for sharks teeth and Miocene fossils on a pristine Chesapeake Bay beach;
  • seined for fish and arthropods;
  • learned about the bay’s habitats and became environmental stewards by collecting trash;
  • hiked a rare cypress swamp to witness its unique ecosystem; and,
  • participated in a live animal show featuring a rescued Maryland terrapin, a king rat snake, and an owl.

Afterwards, students tested the pH level of water samples collected from Battle Creek, and compared them with water samples collected during a prior trip to the Anacostia River.

The trip was the culmination of a school year’s worth of science trips and programming that included field trips to the Children’s Science Center in Fairfax and the Anacostia River with the Anacostia Watershed Society and participation in an EcoRise grant to improve our school’s indoor air quality.

Park View/Georgia Avenue ANC1A Meeting Tonight @ Smitty’s, 6:30 pm

September 23, 2019

Meeting Announcement

In order to better serve the needs of the Park View neighborhood, ANC1A Commissioners Kent Boese (1A08), Michael Wray (1A09) & Rashida Brown (1A10) are kicking off a series of monthly joint Single Member District meetings to provide updates on what is going on in the community and be more accessible to neighbors.

Details for the September meeting are below:

Location: Smitty’s: 3549 Georgia Avenue, NW
Date: Monday, September 23rd
Time: 6:30 pm

Topics for discussion will focus on what is important to neighbors, and may include:

  • Transporation/DDOT
  • Public Safety
  • Updates on park renovations

All are welcome to attend.

Report from First Bruce Monroe Permanent Park Meeting

September 11, 2019

On the evening of September 10th, the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) hosted a meeting to kick-off the community process to create a new, permanent 1-acre park at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Columbia Road. The meeting consisted of a brief overview of the Park Morton development (of which this is a part), and an overview of the site, the potential activities that could be programmed on the site, and a community activity to begin gathering information.

One process issue that arose was meeting location. Last night’s meeting was at the Bruce-Monroe at Park View School. DPR is working to schedule future meetings at the Cesar Chavez school on Kenyon Street.

(Neighbors in the cafeteria of the Park View School at the beginning of the park presentation.)

Following the presentation, neighbors were encouraged to review two park program boards and place stickers next to various programs to help guide the design process. To help gather greater input, DPR will also be distributing the survey electronically and plan to create paper versions for distribution. The goal is to get as much feedback as possible. Once collected, the information will be used to help prepare for the next meeting in the series.

Each person at the meeting got four stickers, one each of green, blue, yellow, and red. The colors indicated each persons first choice (green), second choice (blue), third choice (yellow), and least favorite (red). I’ve posted the results of that process below.

Thus far, two things pop out immediately. The first is that those who were at the meeting generally don’t want a tennis court. The second is that people either love or hate a dog park as most of the stickers were red or green.

It will be interesting to see how the input from the online and paper surveys add to these selections.

Heads Up! Kick Off Bruce Monroe Park Meeting is Tuesday, September 10, at 6:30 pm!

September 9, 2019

Tomorrow at 6:30 pm, the Department of Parks and Recreation will host their first community meeting to begin the conversation on what a permanent, 1-acre park could look like on the Bruce Monroe site located at Columbia Road and Georgia Avenue, NW. A 1-acre permanent park was one of the components agreed to as part of the overall effort to rebuild the Park Morton community which identified the Bruce Monroe site as the first phase of construction.

The build-first phase of Park Morton was challenged in court, and while the case was heard in February 2019, we are still waiting for a decision to be handed down. While that has delayed the timeline for construction of the build-first structure, other aspects of the project continue to move forward — like the permanent park.

See the flyer below for details, and I will post a report of the meeting later this week for those unable to attend.


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