Columbia Heights Listserv Debates 11th and Monroe Park

DSCN0127, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

The original notice says:

“There will be a meeting held on 4 June 2008 at 1125
Spring Road, NW (the Mental Health Center), at 7:30pm,
About the park at 11th and Monroe Streets, NW.

The purpose of this meeting is to provide a public forum
for all the residents, especially those from ANC 1A04 and
1A07, to address concerns or make suggestions about the
park. Residents of other Single Member Districts in ANC
1A are also invited to participate.”

Apparently folks are upset that residents from ANC 1A04 and 07 are given a greater stake in the issue presumably because they live closer to the park.

I thought this was an interesting follow up comment from the listserv:

“The park is a community asset and there are many citizen interests in
the park – to use it for recreation, to use it for relaxation, to use it
to escape the heat, to walk by and not be harassed, to have a good night sleep because no one is in it drinking, to no smell urine/excrement when you walk in an alley, to feel safe and secure in your home/street because it is free of crime, to watch you property value rise because you have an attractive green space nearby.”

Personally, I think those that live right near the park do have a greater stake but obviously those in the general area would like the atmosphere of this park improved. What do you think – does proximity to the park give one a greater stake?

38 Comment

  • I am sick to freaking death of people who don’t know what kinds of crimes are committed in areas making ignorant presumptions about the so-called nobility of adult men who infest children’s playgrounds.

    What legitimate reason does an adult man without children have for hanging out around children, drinking and/or taking drugs and/or gambling and/or acting as a lookout for all of the above.

    Some people presume the best because they haven’t seen the worst in humanity and the victims of these devil’s advocates are children who turn their resentment at having no place to play into impotent rage. The people who think it’s ok for adult men to lurk and leer around children’s playgrounds are misguided in their attempts to be “fair” and in the end are acting with prejudice, even racial prejudice, against the children of our community who deserve freedom from fear.

    The reason I can make such a harsh statement is that I’ve spoken to people before who have drawn lines that the “homeless” and others can destroy city playgrounds for some undefined reason, but similar people were creeps who parked and leered at suburban playgrounds in the 1980s.

    NYC hsa the right idea- if you aren’t accompanying a kid, you stay away from their playgrounds as a safety measure.

  • I say if the people that use the park are going to use it in the manner they use it now, raze the park. I walked by there a few times last week. I don’t live close to that park. But I shouldn’t be subjected to the uncivil behavior either.

    Why oh why do some people find a way to ruin everything? It is as if people are hellbent on destroying any and everything.

    This weekend I saw a young girl there braiding a grown woman’s hair. That is not meant to be done in a park. If the people in this park spent more time raising their kids and grandkids, we wouldn’t have the problems we have in our community.

  • Gambling, public drinking, public urination, car repair, harrassment, etc. are all illegal on public land – rather than kick everyone out they should arrest those doing illegal things. There is nothing wrong with playing chess at the chess tables – or dominoes assuming that they are not gambling.

    As for an “attractive green space,” this isn’t it. It is a paved mess. Perhaps they should start with making it an attractive green space, the do daily sweeps to get rid of anyone who is engaging in illegal activity. I wouldn’t hang out there now even without the riff-raff.

    And, yes I think that people most affected should have a greater stake – it does affect property values and quality of life.

  • Tonight at 11, Hair Braiding in Parks: A serious “problem” in our community.

  • that “park” is not a playground for children the way the colorful swingset would suggest. it’s a playground for junkies, prostitutes, homeless, and the unemployed. i live nearby and i avoid walking by it – in fact it makes me mad every time i pass by, but i have a buffer of a couple of streets at least. so if i lived in the immediate vicinity i would be very upset. so yes, those who live close by have a larger stake than those who live further away.

  • I too don’t consider hair braiding in public a problem.

  • To answer your question PoP:

    While it’s unfortunate that the folks who live closer to the park are directly effected, that should not imply that the other taxpayers who may live further away have less of a say.

    It sounds like the “activity” at this park brings up visceral feelings for many. It would be my opinion to create neighborhood watch teams and to hound the police to clean up this park, not to raze it.

    Hey, but what do I know…I don’t live near the park…

  • I live not too far from the park and walk by it quite often. I enjoy seeing the old guys play chess and hang out. They are citizens of this community as much as the property owners that constantly complain, and deserve a public space to hang out too.

    I love living in CH, but I hate listening to people who want anyone who isn’t just like them to just disappear magically. It’s inhuman. I mean come on, what’s wrong with a woman and a girl doing a hair brading? I just don’t get the intolerance.

    That said, CH does need more playgrounds and green spaces.

  • i lived across the street from that park, but this was in 2001. at that time that park was a mess, shootings and all. i cant comment on the current state of the park, but when i pass by there all i think about is the two back to back shootings. hope the neighbors find a nice solution for all…and what’s the problem with braiding someone’s hair in the park…lol.

  • I mean come on, what’s wrong with a woman and a girl doing a hair brading? I just don’t get the intolerance.

    you don’t see what’s wrong with doing that in public? Are you serious? Well, it’s extremely low class behavior. What about getting a haircut, shaving or picking your butt in public? What about burping, farting, or flossing in public? You wouldn’t accept that, so why accept hair braiding?

    I don’t live near a college so I don’t have to put up with privileged frat boy boorish behavior like drinking outside- even when it’s done by the homeless.

    While I have my doubts about “broken windows” on the other hand, when my parents neighbor parked a flatbed truck in front of their house, people started littering on their suburban street and when those losers with the flatbed moved then all the trash magically disappeared.

    When a mother on her block sent one guy in his 20s, one single guy in his 20s to stay with grandma for two weeks ALL the drug activity on our block ceased and ALL the litter ceased. Sure we still had dog doo, but sometimes all of this is caused by one or two people.

    Rest assured though, that the children who you are denying a place to play will grow up to take this out on you. You can’t outrun teenage rage, you can only prevent it.

  • Wow.

    There is nothing low class about hair brading. And now we’re outraged over burping and farting? This is getting ridiculous.

    The public squares in a lot of cities all over the world have people getting their hair cut, their shoes shined, etc. It’s public space, public activities should be encouraged, not discouraged.

    If there is drinking or drugs or other illegal activity going on, it should be stopped. I’ve never seen it and I walk by the park all the time. But if it going on, it should be stopped.

    But people hanging out in a park is exactly what is supposed to happen in a park.

    Your anger is misplaced.

  • DCDireWolf, you beat me too it, and more eloquently so.

    I wouldn’t put hair-braiding (or haircuts for that matter) in the same ‘low-class behavior’ category as unsanitary, unhygenic, or crude/lewd actions.

  • Actually, what I think people are upset about is that Larry Ray, the ANC rep for the single member district in which the park is located, is trying to keep the ANC rep from the adjacent SMD from being involved in discussions about the park – despite the fact that Monroe St is the border between the two SMDs, so both have constituents who live equally close to the park. Honestly, both ANC reps have been acting like children in this whole thing and I’m pretty disgusted with some of the things Mr. Ray has said publicly about Anne Theisen.

    I live a few blocks away and agree that the park is often misused. It’s rare that I walk by and do not see grown men drinking in the park, and on more than one occasion I’ve witnessed fights break out or people being arrested at the corner. I’ve seen knives pulled and have called the police at least twice.

    The park is definitely a problem as is, but all this petty bickering over who deserves more say is just ridiculous. Drinking, drugs, etc. don’t belong in a children’s playground, period.

    As for this:

    “I mean come on, what’s wrong with a woman and a girl doing a hair brading? I just don’t get the intolerance.

    you don’t see what’s wrong with doing that in public? Are you serious? Well, it’s extremely low class behavior.”

    all I can say is WTF?

  • I’m going to go ahead and third the comments about what a bizarre f-ing thing it is to be “outraged” by hair braiding. Were you raised by some remote tribe somewhere where braiding someone’s hair is a symbolic gesture that means “I crap on your mother’s face”?

  • It’s public space, public activities should be encouraged, not discouraged.

    We are in total agreement. Hair braiding is by no means a public activity. Neither is drinking. Neither is drug use.

    Playgrounds are for kids to play. Any other use is weird, inappropriate, and troublesome.

    Go ahead and mock my usage of my term “low class” but then wonder why businesses you find desirable don’t want to move in. Gee, I wonder why “high class” establishments won’t move in…. hmmm?

    When you eliminate the undesirable activity and replace it with desirable activity then the community becomes vibrant and fun. You see this happen over and over again, you can’t deny the truth.

  • First, I don’t get the hair braiding thing either — what I have a problem with is the defecating, the public drinking, the general intimidating behavior.

    In my mind, the biggest problem with the park is that it looks like crap. It needs to be completely reconstructed so that it is not raised up, and not mostly concrete and dirty rubberized surface but rather an attractive green space. I think that if that happens, the use of the park will change accordingly — ugly, outdated spaces attract bad behavior. Unfortunately the city has been totally unresponsive to requests for funding / plans for redesign of this park, even though every other green space in CH seems to be getting attention. I just don’t get it, this could be a wonderful community asset instead of an eyesore. I am confident that if the city reconstructs this park and makes it an attractive green space, lawful users (including hair braiders and chess players, but excluding public drunks / drug users) will increase dramatically and scare off the criminal who are attracted by an ugly, obscured (by concrete walls) with few or no families ever utilizing the gross play area.

    I hope folks attend the meeting on wednesday even if the email traffic has gotten sidetracked, because I think with minor variations we are all on the same page: we want a clean, safe, attractive, usable space that is policed and maintained adequately. The wednesday meeting will be a jumping off point, I hope, for lots of folks to get involved in petitioning the city for attention to this park. Hope to see folks there as well as at this Saturday’s neighborhood clean-up.

  • Braiding hair in public looks bad. That is not an activity of a child. And it is not an activity for a park. Plain and simple. It fosters stereotypes. Same goes for braiding hair on your front porch. Or parking your car in the front yard.

  • I’m going to go ahead and third the comments about what a bizarre f-ing thing it is to be “outraged” by hair braiding.

    DCDirewolf was the first person who used the word outraged, ask him why he felt the need to misinterpret other people’s posts. I’m curious why he’d try such a low-class trick.

  • What’s wrong with that park is that the high fence creates a cage-like enclosure around both the playset and the crowd of inebriated men. It violates some very primal instincts to enter (with your child!) an enclosed space where a perceived danger exists; it is our nature to keep the large iron bars between ourselves and uncertainty. If the fence isn’t keeping undesirables OUT — and I do not mean hair braiders — then it ought to be taken down.

    On the other hand, this past Sunday the drinkers were all on the other side of 11th, because Mt Rona was setting up for a service in the park. You can chase those guys away but they’re still going to gather somewhere — maybe an alley or a vacant lot where they’re less visible, but an even more concentrated nuisance. If you assume that these men would otherwise be gathering on some nearby corner or vacant lot, then the caged-off area (perversely) provides a community service by keeping them visible and off private property, but isolated from passersby. I’m not saying this is optimal or even good — just that the status quo has a kind of equilibrium to it.

  • The problem is the group of men who use the park as a drinking hangout. I live in the same block and always see men passed out drunk there in the middle of the day. Either that or I get leered at every time I walk by. I think this is what the ANC should be addressing…not the chess players and hair braiders.

  • If I had hair I would totally go to this park to get it braided.

  • Lol. Nate. You are funny. 🙂

    Kids love to braid their parents hair. So I think it is an activity of a child (unless its whole head of hair and she is not even getting ice cream for doing it). And steretypes, by the way, usually are based on something and can be both negative and positive. As stereotypes go, to me, braiding a family member’s here in the park or on the front porch or wherever is pretty benign and endearing one.

    Parking on the front lawn.. well, not many people have front lawns to park on in CH and Petworth so we are safe there. 😉

  • I agree with the poster to said that people not accompanying children should not be allowed in the park.

  • Hair braiding in public is not disgusting. I think its nice that an older woman and a child could spend some time together where the child was doing something for her elder. I think its even nicer that they are able to do it somewhere nice where they could interact with their community.

    DCer, you are a family man…did your wife breast feed in public…

    In regards to PoP’s question, I think the people closer have more to lose if they don’t have the type of change that removes certain people doing these illegal and loud activities so probably should have a little more say.

  • I live very near the park and the fence is not the problem, it is part of the solution. It says that there are some rules and regulation, this is a public place, and restrict entrance and exit access. That is a VERY important part of public safety; criminals not like places that they can’t escape from easily.

    I concur with New2CH, the simple fact is the rules of the park are not being respected. People do drink, gamble, fight, yell, dance, piss, and drink some more. Some people even drive drunk to the park WITH their kids and then drink all day and drive off with them, drunk!!! Anyone support that out there? But some of these same people are nice and respectful.

    Come to the meeting, especially those PARENTS who want to use the park!. I do think most people agree on the basic problems that need to be resolved, and removal of the fence is not one I support just yet. Check out the place about 4-7 pm each day if you want a closer and honest look for yourself.

  • Hair braiding is the least of all of our f@$*&n! worries. Do I engage in it? No. Do I care if you engage in it? Not really. Let’s try and stick to the real issues at hand (drunkeness, drug activity, gambling, etc…) and not worry about stupid shit.

  • hahaha, i think the hair braiding discussion is too funny and needs to be dropped as it has nothing to do with the problems there.

    the problem is clearly the drug and alcohol abuse and the fact that no parent would bring a child there in its current state. it is a playground that is not used for its purpose and that is ashame. something needs to be done to keep the bad element out and make this a place that feels comfortable for the use it was intended, children. this means either more policing of it (shit, cops drive by here all the time on the way to and from the station just over 2 blocks away and i figure most don’t slow down to check on things) or rebuliding in such a way that it wouldn’t be hangout. the way it is right now isn’t good so just about anything would be better.

  • Personally, I would like to all people replaced by bronze statues of people reading while relaxing on a bench, laughing, talking and engaging on the generally lovely non-hair-braiding behavior generally exhibited by statues.

  • “people not accompanying children should not be allowed in the park.”

    “especially those PARENTS who want to use the park”

    And those of us without kids who like to walk past and through parks aren’t wanted? Dudes, we need to be together. Stop with the divisive words already.

  • In addition to the deplorable state of the park, and those who frequent it, is anyone here disgusted that police — whose salaries we pay, whose task it is to protect and serve — flatly refuse to carry out their duties in this neighborhood. The park would be clean if the cops didn’t turn a blind eye to what goes on there. They are willfully shirking their responsibilities and collecting paychecks that we all contribute to. This should be brought up at an ANC meeting. I can’t understand why the police are held to such low standards, but it is certainly the reason why positive change seems so difficult to bring about over there.

  • all I know is that this park is a frightening place to walk past, and it’s not the hair braiding that I am worried about

  • The NYC parks with signs reading “Adults not allowed unless in the company of children” are small, “tot-lot” playgrounds and clearly for use by children only, so such signs are quite sensible in such a setting. Most zones are small, gated sections of a larger park space that is open to everyone.

  • Until the City decides to do something about the part, I think the high fence that gives the feeling of a cage is apropos. They just need to put a lid on it to provide the full effect. Bottom line is – act like and animal, get treated like an animal.

  • at the risk of beating the braided hair thing to death (no pun intended)- i merely wish people were as outraged by the all too real presence of what used to be called (back in the 20th) century private conversations (on cell phones, natch) everywhere ya look… mosques, a friend’s father’s funeral.. hmmmmm.

  • OMG, YES REUBEN!! i thought i was the only person in modern society who doesnt think it appropriate to chat in detail about every minute aspect of my daily life while in the checkout line/coffe shop/funeral procession/barber chair/public bathroom…UGH!

  • DCer, you are a family man…did your wife breast feed in public…

    ha, you’re exactly right. She was brought up right and never did any such thing. Her and her friends had many remarks for women who didn’t express and decided to whip it out in public. disgusting! But I let it slide when the kid is screaming.

  • Priorities and values are wrong if breast feeding in public is considered offensive by someone.

    This country is so weird sometimes.

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