Posted tagged ‘recreation’

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.

Washington’s 1967 Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim Pools

April 26, 2017

In May 1967, Vice President Hubert Humphrey announced that Washington would get 15 new swimming pools. The new pools would be 20-by-40-foot pools and were expected to be completed by July. The pools were designed to be shallow pools and to be located on playgrounds or community centers (including Park View), where they would be intended to be used by small children for wading and learning to swim.

The Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Park View Recreation Center.

Image of Watkins pool with leaked water — from the Washington Evening Star, July 16, 1967.

The total cost budgeted for the new swimming pools was $40,000. The first three — at Watkins Recreation Center, Barry Farm, and Deanwood — were completed and open by July 16. However, they were found to have a design flaw that caused water to flow out of the pools and onto the grass surrounding them. The worst conditions were at Barry Farm and Watkins. At Watkins, the water ran to the sidelines of the softball diamond. At Barry Farm, the water ran downhill onto a children’s play area and directly under a set of swings. Efforts were undertaken to correct the problems and adjust construction of the other twelve pools then being built.

The final six pools opened in mid-August, behind schedule. They were the pools at Wilson, Benning Stoddert, Parkside, Lincoln-Capper, Garrison, and North Michigan Park.

While the pools were considered a success, when children began to enter the pools after hours the recreation department adopted a process of emptying each pool on a nightly basis, with each pool holding between 14,000 and 35,000 gallons of water — a very wasteful and time consuming practice. It also meant that the pools were not filled or used at all in 1977 due to an area water crisis.

With the pools now reaching their 50th anniversary, I reviewed the sites of each pool and discovered that only four of the original 15 pools still exist. These are at Park View, Watkins, and Lincoln-Capper. The map below shows the location of all 15 pools, with existing pools in blue and pools no longer existing in red.

Reviewing the locations of the Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pools also provides insight into the changing nature of playgrounds in the District of Columbia. For example, some pools have been replaced by aquatic centers (Barry Farm and Deanwood), some merely are gone while the playgrounds still exist, and in some cases the entire playground/recreation center no longer exists. An extreme example of the latter is with the old Garrison Playground which is nothing more than an empty field today.

(To the south of Garrison Elementary School is an empty field which was once the location of the Garrison Playground.)

It is difficult to tell what the future may hold for the remaining four Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pools. While the ones at Park View, Happy Hollow, and Watkins still appear to be going strong, the playground around the old Lincoln-Capper pool is currently surrounded by work to upgrade the surrounding playground, presumably to partially accommodate the neighboring Van Ness school.

Below are photos of Watkins and Lincoln-Capper as they currently appear.

(Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Watkins.)

(Walk-to-Learn-to-Swim pool at Lincoln-Capper.)

Council Asks DGS to Study & Recommend Options for Community Use of Schools

January 25, 2017

school-use-billOn January 10, 2017, Councilmember Charles Allen — along with Councilmembers Robert White, Anita Bonds, and DAvid Grosso — introduced a bill to require the Department of General Services (DGS) to convene a task force to identify barriers to and develop recommendations for community use of public school facilities and ot submit those recommendations to the Council. The Task Force must transmit a report of its work and findings to the Council by March 1, 2018.

In reading through the bill, some of the items requested of DGS includes identifying existing barriers to community use of school buildings, determining costs for community use of school buildings, and developing recommendations for a District-wide policy to allow for community use of school buildings. The report’s focus is to be on policies and practices for increasing community use of school facilities for both organized and casual recreation, with an emphasis on promoting healthy activity.

While I’m encourage by this effort and can support its goals, I don’t feel it is going far enough. Based on messages I’ve read on area listservs over the last few years, this appears to be in response — in part — to residents seeking access to swimming pools (such as the one at Dunbar High School), gymnasiums, and other recreation focused areas of new and existing schools. I think such an approach is too narrow and presumes a definition of recreation that is physical in nature. For me, recreation needs to be defined more liberally and broadly, and increasing community access to school facilities for any purpose that builds a stronger community out to be the goal.

One issue that is particularly lacking in many neighborhoods is available community meeting space, where neighbors can come together over local issues and get to know each other as part of the process.  With this in mind, I’ll be reviewing the types of spaces available in some of our area schools, and coming up with a list of recommendations to be considered by the task force as they work on their report for the Council.

 

Park View Field House Renovation Nearly Finished

August 7, 2015

This will probably be the final update on the Park View Field House at the recreation center before the project is completed. It is essentially completed now, and the majority of punch list items are expected to be completed by Wednesday, August 12, 2015, including removal of the temporary construction fence.

Below are photos of the (nearly) finished project.

Park View Field House

IMG_1158

IMG_1156

Park View rec center interior

IMG_1144

Planning Reopening Events for Park View Recreation Center Continues

May 25, 2012

The second in a series of weekly meetings to plan community events at the Park View Recreation Center was held last night. The meeting’s focus was on the coming Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and a later event to celebrate the Park View Family.

The ribbon cutting that will officially reopen the renovated and newly constructed basketball court, playground, athletic field, and adult exercise area is hoped to occur at the end of June, possibly on either June 23 or June 30. In any event, those at the meeting are striving to have the event on a Saturday. A lot will depend upon when the renovation work is completed but that could be as early as June 18.

Those at the meeting agreed that the ribbon cutting event should be used to launch an afternoon of smaller events that focus on food, community, and games that emphasize the features of the outdoor recreation area. While the main recreation center will close at its normal 4 p.m. Saturday time, the outdoor area will remain open to at least 7 p.m.

It is not too late to participate. The next meeting will be at the Park View Rec Center on Thursday, May 31st, at 6:30 p.m.

Finalizing the ribbon cutting event planning as well as continued planning for the Park View Family Day later in the summer or fall still need all the participation people are willing to give.

Share

Second Park View Field Renovation Meeting is Tonight @ Park View Rec Center, 6:30 p.m.

June 9, 2011

Then second meeting between the neighborhood and DPR concerning the renovation of the Park View athletic field is tonight at 6:30 p.m. Details can be found by clicking on the flier to the right.

Readers may recall that at the first DPR meeting on May 5, 2011, the planners presented three initial plans for community comment to better help them determine how to renovate the athletic field. Concept two, which eliminate all of the green space in favor of two basketball courts and a tennis court received the least support.

There was a lot of support for both concepts one and three. Based on this, the planners have reworked both of those concepts incorporating additional comments they received at the first meeting, via email, and from this blog. I’m very excited to see how the plans have changed as a result.

To help me better understand what activities need to be supported on the athletic field I decided to play with the plans myself. Taking into account the entire site, and presuming that the DPR and school sites could be united with indoor recreation activities being included at the school when it’s not in session, below is what I came up with.
In this fantasy version, a regulation basketball court replaces the current recreation structure (which originally replaced a tennis court). The children’s pool is also replaced by a spray park that could support a wider range of ages. This plan also provides room for some landscaping on the Warder Street side of the basketball court and a sod area between the spray park and the old field house. Lastly, I’ve included three additional trees since I feel trees are important and Warder is in serious need of trees. In this plan the basketball court does encroach upon Otis Place to about the middle of the street.

What was important to me in performing this exercise was the realization that though small, if designed well everything the recreation center currently supports can continue to be supported without a loss of the expansive athletic field if the functions of the current building can be shifted to the neighboring school in some manner. This is something that DPR is currently planning to do at sites like Raymond.

Share

Reconsidering the Partial Closing of Otis Place

June 7, 2011

Last August I posed the question on whether or not closing a portion of Otis Place to connect the school and recreation center properties was a good idea or not. Since it was unclear at the time if the school was destined to be modernized or closed, I dreamed large and not only closed the entire block but cut in a new road at the rear of the recreation center’s property.

Now that things are more settled I think its time to think about this again. During the last year a decision has been made to keep the school open and renovate the building. We are also poised to begin renovations of the rec center’s athletic field. Because space at the rec center is at a premium and residents have expressed the desire to support tennis, basketball, soccer, and football, we either need to find additional space or decide what we are willing to live without. One possible way to enhance the neighborhood’s need to balance recreation, green space, and general quality of life would be to close the portion of Otis Place between both campuses.

Realistically, what would a partial street closure look like and how would it impact traffic? Below is a map that makes sense to me along with notes on what would need to change.

Map indicating how closing the section of Otis Place between the school and rec center could impact traffic

The only part of Otis that truly lends itself to closing easily is the section between Warder Street and the alley behind 6th Street, NW. Yet, to close this section the following changes would need to be made.

  1. Newton Place between Warder Street and 6th Street would need to change from a one-way eastbound street to a one-way westbound street.
  2. It would make sense if 6th Street, NW, were changed to a one-way northbound street.
  3. The stoplight at Otis and Warder would no longer make sense and should be relocated to the intersection of Princeton Place and Warder (or perhaps just a stop sign could be placed at this intersection and the traffic signal eliminated entirely).

This wouldn’t impact drivers too much since both Princeton Place and Park Road (the streets directly north and south of the affected area) support two-way traffic and have traffic signals at their intersections with Georgia Avenue.

Closing this section of Otis Place is not a new idea. Records at the DCPS school archives indicate that it has been raise at least two prior times. The first attempt to close Otis and unite the adjacent playground with the school property was proposed in 1928, but was opposed by the Georgia Avenue Business men.  It was raised again in 1962 when the Board of Education requested the closure to make the school and recreation lands available for joint use. This met with opposition from the Pleasant Plains Civic Association ultimately causing the request to be withdrawn from consideration.

Share


%d bloggers like this: