Archive for the ‘Parks and Green spaces’ category

Artificial Turf or Natural Grass — What is Your Opinion on What’s Best for DC Athletic Fields

January 25, 2018

Last fall, the start of the school year was greeted with the unwelcome news that several of DC’s artificial turf athletic fields were considered unsafe and would need to be closed for repair or replacement. In our area, two fields that came under scrutiny were the fields at Harriet Tubman Elementary School and at the Park View Recreation Center. Fortunately, both of those fields were able to be used after some repairs, but the underlying condition remains.

The conversations that resulted from the field safety issue is ongoing, and many advocates of safe athletic fields would like to see the District discontinue using crumb rubber artificial fields.

Now, the Department  of General Services has created an online survey to allow neighbors to express their opinions on the issue. The online survey will be open until January 31st! (Take Survey here).

According to DGS:

This quick survey is an important way for us to get … feedback from DC residents and users of our playing fields on experiences with fields owned and operated by the District government, including public parks and schools. We’re also interested in your perspective on the type of materials used for field surfaces, and how any major changes to fields are communicated to the community.

Respondents to this survey have the option of submitting contact information for further engagement on this topic, but you also have the option to remain anonymous. Responses to this survey will help inform improvements to District policy on managing and maintaining fields.

DMPED Signs Bruce Monroe Redevelopment Land Disposition Agreement

October 11, 2017

Here is some news from the October New Communities Initiative E-Newsletter that I thought people should be aware of. Last month, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) signed the Bruce Monroe Land Disposition Agreement (LDA).

Additionally, the newsletter stated that the community design process for the new park on the Bruce Monroe site will be co-lead by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the Department of General Services (DGS), which will kick off later this year.

(Rendering of approved building and park at the Bruce Monroe property.)

Park Morton Redevelopment Effort Clears Significant Hurdle, Receives Council Approval

December 21, 2016

bruce-monroe-site(Rendering of the Bruce Monroe site from the southeast showing park and building locations as proposed in Zoning Case 16-11.)

Yesterday, the Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously at their Committee of the Whole meeting (watch meeting) to place the Bruce Monroe surplus and disposition resolutions on the consent agenda for their final Legislative Meeting of 2016, at which they were approved later in the day. Prior to the vote, Councilmembers Nadeau, Grosso, Bonds, and May each spoke about the importance of the project and stated their support.

Particularly noteworthy were the comments from Councilmembers Grosso and May. Councilmember Grosso acknowledged having received many emails and calls both supporting and opposing the plan to use the Bruce Monroe site as part of the Park Morton development, but stated strongly that he would be supporting the effort that would allow the District to fulfill its promise to the Park Morton residents. He also noted on a personal level that he grew up in the neighborhood and in his youth the site resembled a jail in the middle of the community with a fence around it, and not a park. Councilmember May, for her part, stated that while she rarely spoke on issues located outside her ward she would be voting in support. She also stated that she was familiar with the needs of the Park Morton residents and that whether in Ward 8 or any other Ward of the city all residents deserve quality housing and a safe place to live.

The Council’s  approval of both the Bruce Monroe surplus and disposition resolutions supports the effort for the site to be used as the “Build First” site in the District’s effort to replace the Park Morton Housing Complex with a new mixed-income community without displacing Park Morton families from the community. The Zoning Commission is scheduled to take action on the related Park Morton Planned Unit Development cases on January 30, 2017, following two hearings held earlier this month (brief overview of zoning hearings here).

Prior to the Council action, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A voted in early 2016 to support the surplus and disposition of the Bruce Monroe site for the Park Morton effort with the condition that the District include a large, permanent park as part of the redevelopment effort. The District Government has recognized this condition and 1.02 acres of the site will be redeveloped as a permanent park with programming to be determined with input from the community. A 6,700 sq. ft. central green is also planned for Morton Street as part of the redevelopment project. Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A will also continue to explore opportunities to improve, create, and expand public access to park spaces in the Columbia Heights, Park View, and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods as it considers future development and engages in the Comprehensive Plan amendment process.

In addition to preserving 147 public housing units and establishing new permanent park spaces, the Park Morton redevelopment effort will increase area housing for seniors and families at all income levels. The project will also have a significant and long-lasting positive impact on lower Georgia Avenue. In addition to increasing area housing options, it will also improve public safety and encourage development along the corridor. By aligning new roads and reknitting the development on Morton Street into the surrounding community, blind alleys and the Morton Street cul-de-sac will be removed – a configuration that is not conducive to public safety. And by removing the uncertainty on whether the redevelopment of Park Morton will move forward, the District will encourage developers who own property on Georgia Avenue to move forward with their respective projects.

New Flowers at Civic Plaza Continue to Be Thorny Issue

September 6, 2016
Columbia Heights Civic Plaza with new plants.

Columbia Heights Civic Plaza with new plants.

Within the last week, the Columbia Heights Civic Plaza has received new plantings for the second time since the spring. However, this effort to beautify the plaza is not welcomed by many. Those taking issue with the new plants aren’t necessarily against the plants, but rather that the efforts in June and now both occurred without any notice to the community and that converting the areas around the fountain from grass to flower beds have negatively impacted the usefulness of the plaza.

The negative impact of the plants on the plaza has been particularly felt by the weekly farmers market, which uses the entire plaza. More on a daily level, when the areas were grass people would sit on the area while watching children play in the fountain.

What is particularly disappointing is that members of the farmers market, community, ANC1A, and Department of Parks and Recreation all sat down to discuss how the plaza is managed and functions since the areas have become plant beds on August 10th. While there was an understanding that changing anything during the current season wouldn’t make sense, there seemed to also be an understanding that the plantings would need to be revisited as they have changed how the plaza functions. Despite this meeting, more plants have been added to the beds further impacting the usefulness of the area.

It seems that either DPR of the Department of General Services, or perhaps some other agency, didn’t get the message that their efforts to beautify the plaza are not all that welcomed, and have caused tensions and angry words between those using the plaza and those attempting to protect plants that were never intended to be part of the tightly designed space.

In short, someone in our government messed up, and is continuing to spend money and labor to entrench the error.
IMG_1409(Section of the former lawn terrace recently planted with new flowers.)

Wangari Gardens Spring Kickoff Well Attended

April 5, 2016

IMG_0343Wangari Gardens held their 2016 Spring Kickoff event on Sunday April 3rd and it was a success by any measure. The garden contains 108 individual garden plots. One thing I learned on my visit was that in addition dedicated garden plots (which are inside the fence) there is also a community garden area, a community orchard, and vines have been planted along the fence which produce berries. These community areas are available to anyone who visits the gardens — meaning that if you go to the gardens and there is fruit on the tree, you are welcome to pick it. The eastern end of the garden also includes an apiary which I really like. (Learn more about Wangari Gardens here).

The open house included food, kite flying, and a tour of the garden for new gardeners and anyone who wanted to learn more about how it is organized in general. It was a beautiful day to learn more about one of our area community gardens and chat with neighbors and friends.

Wangari gardens

(From left to right, Ms. Juanita, Commissioner Boese, Wangari Gardens outreach coordinator Lan Nguyen.)

Wangari Gardens Spring Kickoff is Sunday April 3rd

April 1, 2016

If you are interested in participating in a local community garden, Wangari Gardens is having a Spring Kickoff Party on Sunday April 3 from 2-6 pm (poster below). Check out their Website to learn more.

Wangari Gardens currently has 108 plots in the garden.  The have approximately 20 plots available, however there is a wait list for people interested in getting plots. Details on gardens plots can be found here, and people interested in getting a plot can access the application form here!

This year’s kickoff party features:

  • Food and games for kids
  • Live music from the Foggy Bottom Whomp-Stompers
  • Gardening demonstrations
  • Information about becoming a plot holder at Wangari and how to get a free private plot

Wangari Garden Spring Kickoff

Park View Community Partners Green Space Survey Released at Park Morton Steering Committee Meeting

March 30, 2016

At the Park Morton Steering Committee meeting held on March 24th, Park View Community Partners (the development team) walked through the results of the Green Space Survey that they’d conducted between January 29th and February 8th. The slide deck from that presentation is available on the Park View Engage Web site and also available here.

Overall, 201  people participated in the survey (with one caveat, it is possible that one person took the survey 36 times as the IP address was the same as were the responses). The purpose of the survey was to solicit feedback on the desired programming of the park elements at both the Park Morton and Bruce-Monroe sites. That can best be illustrated in the following two charts.

Question four focused on green space elements at the Park Morton site:

Park Morton Green Space chart

Question five focused on green space elements at the Bruce-Monroe site:

Bruce Monroe survey use

At the meeting, I offered two suggestions to the development team to gather information to help them better understand what park uses would meet community expectations. With the warmer weather, I suggested that the team visit the Bruce-Monroe site on several occasions to engage those who visit the site and learn about the activities (both existing and absent) that people would like to have at the site. I also suggested that the team visit the parks, playgrounds, and community gardens surrounding the Bruce-Monroe site and ask similar questions.

Overall, it would be both interesting and helpful to the planning process to develop a broad understanding of the recreational activities that currently exist in the community as well as activities that people would like to have in the area that aren’t currently available. It would also be useful to know why people choose to visit some greenspaces and not others — for example, are roads like Georgia Avenue, Park Place, or Sherman Avenue considered barriers to some?

Whether these suggestions are acted upon or not, it is clear to me that more work is needed to understand what the programming needs are for our local greenspaces than can be achieved through an online survey.


New Park Morton Master Plan Unveiled to Community

January 29, 2016

Last night the Park Morton Development Team presented the updated Park Morton Master Plan to members of the community. The new master plan incorporates comments and feedback gathered between the first Park Morton Steering Committee meeting on October 15, 2015 and the December 12, 2015, planning workshop. The result is a plan that contains a mix of housing types over the current Park Morton and Bruce Monroe sites while creating and preserving park space at both.

Park Morton Master PlanThe meeting was composed of two parts. The first part was an overall presentation recapping the process and then presenting the new plan and how community feedback had been incorporated into the plan. The second part was made up of three breakout groups where community members could make additional comments and suggestions and ask more in depth questions.

At the Park Morton site, the master plan extends Morton Street to the east connecting it to Warder Street. A new north-south street is also proposed connecting Morton Street to Park Road. At its core is a new park. The building types along Morton Street would resemble rowhouses, though many would contain more than one living unit. The area along Park Road would contain a large apartment building that is 4-stories along Park Road and rises to 5-stories towards the rear.

Below is the basic plan:

Park Morton Master Plan PM Site

And below is a rendering of what this would look like on Morton Street, looking east toward the new park:

Morton Street Rendering

At the Bruce Monroe site, a large building would be constructed along Irving Street with the tallest section being on Georgia Avenue. The property would be split with the southern half remaining park space. A new road would be cut in to the rear and a few rowhouses would be constructed in the southwest corner along Columbia Road. One reason for dividing the property along an east-west axis was in response to community concerns over how the buildings would cast shade on the park and surrounding community.

A general idea of what the Bruce Monroe site would look like is below:

Park Morton Master Plan BM Site

And below is a rendering of what this would look like from the intersection of Georgia and Columbia Rd looking nw toward the park:

Georgia Avenue Rendering

Overall, the number of housing units would break down into roughly 200 at the Park Morton site and 275 at the Bruce Monroe site. While some questioned why the building at the Bruce Monroe site couldn’t be shorter and the buildings at Park Morton couldn’t be taller, overall the building types and density as presented are correct when considering zoning and D.C.’s Comprehensive Plan. Other aspects touched upon during the presentation included providing adequate parking by including parking garages under the large buildings and parking pads or garages for the towhouse structures; and an interest in including senior housing as part of the mix.

During the breakout session, some of the suggestions that were offered included incorporating public art at both sites, using the new Morton Street connection with Warder to create better east-west bike lanes; and a desire for a dog park.



Where do you take your dog to walk, run, socialized with other dogs, and just have a good time being a dog?

October 13, 2015
The area at Bruce Monroe Park closed to dogs recently.

The area at Bruce Monroe Park closed to dogs recently.

Last week, dogs were barred from the fenced in area of Bruce Monroe Park near the community garden and the gates were locked.  According to the Department of Parks and Recreation, the area was chained off because it was not a legitimate dog park and is, instead, officially designated as a stormwater management area for the community garden. Borderstan has a good overview of the story and members of the community who want access restored have started a Facebook page called “Save The Bruce Monroe Community Park Dog Run.”

ANC 1A10 Commissioner Rashida Brown is working to schedule a community meeting to sort this out, and I certainly support her efforts. While the short term outcome may indeed be to restore access to the fenced in area, that won’t solve the problem in the long-term.

This all leads me to ask, whether at Bruce Monroe Park or elsewhere — Where do you take your dog to walk, run, socialized with other dogs, and just have a good time being a dog? I’ve seen dogs playing at Wangari Gardens, at the triangle park at Rock Creek Church Road and Park Place, and at the unofficial dog park at 11th Street and Park Road. However, with no official dog parks in the northeastern corner of Ward 1, what spaces have you found that provide a safe environment for your dog to exercise and play with other dogs?


Wangari Gardens Fall Festival – October 18, 2015 from 2 to 6 PM!

October 6, 2015

From the Wangari Gardens Web site:

There’s a nip in the air, the leaves are turning, and it’s to get your last harvest in before winter!  To celebrate the end of the season, we are having a fall festival at wangari gardens, park place and kenyon street NW .   RSVP here.

The festival will feature:

  • Food and games for kids including a moonbounce and face painting!
  • Music by local 20s jazz band, the Foggy Bottom Whomp-Stompers!
  • Gardening demonstrations
  • Recognition and prizes for gardeners this season
  • Information about becoming a plot holder at wangari and how to get a free private plot
  • And more!

Come out and invite all your friends!

Wangari Fall Festival

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