11th and Monroe Park (NW) 2nd Community Meeting Tonight


Thanks to all the readers for sending the word about tonight’s second meeting.

Please join DPR
Wednesday, March 3rd at 7:00 p.m. to discuss improvement for the 11th and Monroe Streets Park
Metropolitan Police Department Substation
750 Park Road, NW

After the jump you can see the meeting notes from the previous meeting in Feb.

11th + Monroe Park

Park Improvement Project

Community Meeting #1

February 17, 2010 – Columbia Heights Recreation Center – 7 p.m.

Meeting Minutes

The meeting started at 7:00 pm and concluded at 8:30 pm.

Introductions were held, which was followed by DPR staff presenting the community planning timeline, existing conditions, a map of neighborhood open spaces and a comparison of similar DPR projects. A discussion was held to develop priorities for the park.

* Attendance

Leo Albornoz, DPR Language Access coordinator; Sybongile Cook, Executive Office of the Mayor; Richard Dubeshter, resident; George Escobar, DC Office of Latino Affairs; John Fanning, DPR; Honorable Jim Graham, Councilmember, Ward 1; John Greer, resident; Ingrid Gutierrez, DC Office of Latino Affairs; John Henderson, Washington Parks and People; David Janifer, DPR; W. Jordan, resident; Camille McKenzie, Columbia Heights/Shaw Collaborative; Byron McNeil, resident; Michele Molotsky, DPR; Richard Klugman, resident; Betty Pair, ANC Commissioner and Friends of the Park; Jackie Reyes, Office of Ward 1 CM Jim Graham; Brent Sisco, DPR; Jeremiah Williams, resident; Calvin Woodland, Office of Ward 1 CM Jim Graham; Timothy Vafides, Executive Office of the Mayor; Jeff Zeeman, North Columbia Heights Civic Association; Emily Zimmerman, resident

* Scope of Project Overview
o Previously, DPR made basic renovations to the park but lacked funding for other improvements.
o Feedback from the meeting will guide the design of two conceptual designs.
o The conceptual designs will be presented and reviewed by the community at the next meeting on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. – Location to be determined.
o Based on the community feedback, DPR will refine the concepts and develop a final design for a third community meeting. The goal of this meeting is to receive approval of the final conceptual plan from the community. The third meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. – Location to be determined.

* Anticipated Project Timeline
o Approach consensus on design by the end of March 2010.
o Develop Construction Documents (CD) and solicit contractors in early spring 2010. The process of developing CDs will take 4 months once a consensus is reached and an A/E firm bid is accepted, the General Contractor (GC) typically takes 12-16 weeks after that to build.
o We hope to start construction in the spring.

* General Comments by Brent Sisco, Landscape Architect
o Positives: The 11th + Monroe Park is a corner lot. It has mature Oak trees, a playground, new fencing, and a lot of access points.
o Challenges:
+ The trees create a perimeter and they don’t permit southern sunlight to reach the park.
+ The surface is lower and doesn’t give clear site lines.
+ The retaining walls are high.
+ There’s a sense of verticalness.
+ The park doesn’t feel safe.
+ Lack of greenness.
+ Poor drainage.
o Vision: To create a restorative environment when you can be distracted from your troubles.

* Discussion of Design Preferences

Every participant was asked to name his/her three priorities. They are in ranking order from highest to lowest.

+ Fence Improvements: non jail feeling, retractable, green, etc (7)
+ Green space (6)
+ Park benches: not concrete (6)
+ Swings (4)
+ Garden (3)
+ Level the surface/improve site lines (3)
+ No walls or make them more functional (3)
+ Tables: similar to 14th + Girard (3)
+ Drainage (2)
+ Restrooms (2)
+ Trees (2)
+ Water Element, fountain or sprinkler (2)
+ Bulletin Board (1)
+ Enliven the SW corner (1)
+ Lighting (1)
+ Multilingual Welcome (1)
+ Open Space (1)
+ Play Equipment as universal equipment (1)
+ Sandbox (1)
+ Signage (1)
+ Spinners (1)
+ Trolley theme (1)

* DPR Contact Information

Please share the minutes of this meeting with any of your neighbors who were not able to attend the meeting. As you think about the park if you have ideas of things you would like included in the park that were not discussed please feel free to contact members of the DPR team. We welcome your feedback.

David Janifer: [email protected] or 202-316-4227.

Michele Molotsky: [email protected] or 202-445-1706.

Brent Sisco: [email protected] or 202-615-9824

* The DPR Website for the 11th + Monroe Project will be located at:


11 Comment

  • I was at the meeting. The meeting basically reviewed two designs. One design had a circle theme an was the overwhelming favorite. The second design really seemed like something the designer threw together so he could satisfy the requirement of providing two options.

    Parents in the meeting were concerned about the proposed play spaces being too sunny b/c some trees would be removed. The designer and neighbors reported that between existing trees and buildings the park would remain shaded.

    Parents also expressed concern that in the favored design the proposed playgrounds were too small. And too close to the road. Parents were also interested in having low fences around the play area to mark the play area as distinct from the table/chess etc. portion of the park. Other expressed concern that even small fences would chop up the park too much.

    There was some discussion about the fence. The fence has to stay but the designer wanted something “less like a prison”. Some folks seemed concerned that it was “too high” It is clear the designer wants something different, but short of making the fence a straight line along Monroe, it was not clear what he was thinking of.

    There was a lot of yelling about whether leashed dogs would be allowed in the park. No one in the meeting seemed to be representing “dog owners” but one person noted that dog owners might want to enter the park and sit at a table drinking a coffee with a dog. Others expressed fairly violent opposition to that (there was a lot of yelling about there being a dog park just down the street — the difference between a “dog park” and a park where “one could bring a dog” seemed lost on the dog opponents). A DPR representative said dogs would not be permitted in the park because it is a “Childrens play area.” One parent noted that if the park is really intended as a children’s play area, the large number of tables and non-play space raised real questions about that designation. (More about tables later). A good point was made about dog waste. There is a lot of anti-social behavior and littering going on in the park and if you add scofflaw dog owners to that then you have dog poop on top of the human waste and trash already in the park. If there are dog owners out there who care, they should probably speak up quickly.

    There was concern about having adequate green space and making sure the plants were hardy and did not need much water. DPR said they could not put grass in b/c grass would not survive. Consensus seemed to be for ornamental grassed. One person expressed concern that taller plants or ivy-like ground cover creates rat habitat. There was a lot of interest in making sure the rear wall in vine covered or otherwise hides the backyards that are currently visable from the park.

    Representatives from the local church and a community group (I think, it might have been William Jordan from the ANC) asked about holding events in the park like church services. They pointed out to DPR that there was an electrical box for them and DPR said they would make sure that was preserved in the final design. It was noted that the tables might need to be moved for such events (see tables discussion below).

    Drainage was a BIG issue. The designer assured everyone that drainage was the first issue they were addressing. Despite his assurances drainage came up over and over. Drainage, drainage, drainage. I hope DPR got the message.

    At the end of the design discussion there was a discussion with the police. The police reported that 1) there is no law against loitering so they cannot just roust people for being seedy and hanging out; 2) the drunks are getting more creative and its hard to figure out if they are drinking w/o violating their “first amendment rights” (I think they meant 4th amendment unreasonable search, but whatever…). Police said they can’t just walk up to someone and ask to take a sip of their coke to see if it is really alcohol. A participant pointed out that the stash of alcohol is just hidden under a bush so the police would do some minimal work and at least take those drinks — it was not clear if the police really got the point.

    Related to the policing issue, someone raised the issue of why tables were being put in the park if we were trying to make it not a “drunk park.” “Tables just make it a bar for them.” Representatives of the local church and others who reported trying to help the drinkers reacted pretty negatively to the ‘no tables” discussion saying that “tables don’t make people drink alcoholism does” and “we need to reach out and help the people in the park”. (interestingly, the church representatives were very concerned about being able to move the tables out of the way so they could hold services). Folks who had been working on fixing this park for a long time noted that they had tried previously to get the tables removed. This discussion sort of disintegrated with parents expressing concerns that tables attract the drunks and make the park unfriendly for children (i.e. not really a children’s play park) and church reps insisting that we need to talk about long term solutions to social problems, not about tables (they were just talking past each other).

    So folks, express your opinions (here and to DPR). Summary of issues are

    Size of play areas — and what kind of equipment and what kind of surface (originally proposed mulch, someone asked for the recyled tire safety surface)
    Tables (chess and larger)
    Kids park or Community park w/ a play area?
    What kind of green space/planting

  • Thanks for the comprehensive report, appreciate the understated way you have communicated the usual craziness of a DC (or probably anywhere) community meeting and hope you have recovered. Are the actual plans available online anywhere? I just checked the DPR website and all they seem to have are notices of meeting, not the actual plans.

    As for the dog rule – how about we permit only parents/guardians who have brought a child to the park to also have a leashed dog. Makes it possible for a busy parent to walk both the beasts at once.

    • The meeting was actually not that crazy. I suspect the next one — March 31 at Rona Baptist Church 7pm — will be crazier. That is the “final unveiling” of the plan. There seems to still be some element in the neighborhood that really wants toilets in the park (DPR is against it) and I’d think any parent with kids potentially playing in that park would also be opposed. So, look for some yelling about that.

      DPR seemed interested in the “no tables” idea, and I think if they come forward with a plan that actually increases the play area and removes the tables there will be a lot of yelling by the Rona contingent (and they’ll be a lot stronger at the next meeting). So, show up POP readers!!

      As for the only parents have dogs rule proposed by victoria, I realize that was probably a joke… But the dog demographic I was imagining was the childless 20 something dog owner who wants to buy a Col. Heights Coffee and walk up to the park with his/her mutt and sit outside for 15 minutes. (Before I had kids I used to be that guy).

      It was the dog walkers who really helped clean up Meridian Hill park. Maybe coffee drinkers with dogs and can help clean up this park. People with a nice big dog next to them are less intimidated by drunks. The dogs can blaze a trail for the kids. (But, seriously, the park should not be a place for “walking” dogs, its not big enough to be a place where you let your dog pee, and for god sake, pick up the poo please).

  • Where the drunks and bums that frequent the park there as well? A shame I cannot bring my children there during the days. Hopefully a renovation will deter the usual crowd.

  • If it’s really going to be redesigned and there is electrical power, why not include a police desk here? If the 7-11 in Mount Pleasant was a suitable place to put a community policing table, this certainly is. Come to think of it, this could start tomorrow even without the redesign.

    There could easily be room at the desk for the church to provide alcoholism outreach during every hour that the park is open. Long term fix and short term quality of life side by side.

  • Why doesn’t the church just welcome the drunks to hang out and drink (and receive outreach-whatever) in their basement or front yard and leave the park for kids?

  • I was also at the meeting, and that is an accurate recap. For the record, I really liked the first design, it is a DRAMATIC improvment over what is there now. It sounds like it will be slightly modified to expand the size of the children play areas, but otherwise remain largely the same as what was presented at the meeting. I imagine it will eventually be posted on the website, when finalized.

    As for the dog issue, I do feel that it is highly relevant that there is a place one block away dedicated completely to dogs and dog owners. Parents seemed concerned about dogs and children mixing, and this is a really small space that can’t accomodate everyone (for example, I’d love a basketball hoop but I know that had no chance of happening). There really is more than ample space for dog users in the area. And personally, as someone who lives across from that space, I am ENORMOUSLY disappointed by how the dog owners have treated it … they haven’t organized a friends of group to care for or raise money for the space (despite efforts to try to do so, folks just never followed through), they’ve scattered crappy plastic furniture all over the place rather than trying to get something permanent and attractive installed, it just looks gross, dirty, garbage-laden and disheveled, and until they can prove that they can take minimal steps to clean, care for, and improve a space dedicated wholly to them (a space whose creation I wholeheatedly suppported by the way) I’m not going to feel sorry for those folks being excluded from a green space that is geared towards kids. And I have neither dogs nor kids, although I like both, so I have no dog in this fight (no pun intended).

    Personally, I’d be happy to see less tables due to the alcohol issues (a few game tables are fine), but at the much more heavily attended forum on this park about a year ago, the park regulars / usual anti-gentrification crowd went absolutely crazy when the idea of removing tables was raised. Any such move would most definitely be viewed, rightly or wrongly, as a victory for gentrifiers and a defeat for long-standing community members. In my mind, it’s just not a fight worth fighting, as it would alienate a lot of people.

    I’m just happy there is no bathroom being put in. That would be an absolutely disaster on a variety of levels. This is a VERY small, community park and there is no reason at all for a bathroom. If you need to go, just walk to your residence. For those that are too inebritated to do so, bathrooms won’t be a solution anyway, so there is no upside but a ton of downside (to start with, taking valuable real estate in a very small space, being an eyesore, providing a venue for drug use and sex, cost to maintain, odor, and so on).

    My hope is that the combination of (1) a far more open / less enclosed design (makes those engaging in illegal activity more visible / less secure in avoiding police), (2) a more attractive space that attracts a lot more regular lawful users than the hideously ugly park that is there now, (3) the long break in time during construction (during which some of the problem users who engage in fights and drunken behavior), and (4) extra community / police vigilance after so much is invested to make the space attractive will eliminate a lot of the problems in the park that prevent many from feeling comfortable there. Only time will tell.

  • I’m a little appalled that the favored design is the one with the benches and tables in the middle of the park. This will designate the park as primarily a park for adult men to hang out in, not as a children’s play area. If parents are required to wade through adult men who are smoking and using adult language every time they want to access the equipment, it will be a huge disincentive to play there. At that point, just admit that you’re creating a park for adult men, and don’t waste taxpayers’ money by putting in playground equipment. The park is so underutilized by parents as it is, unless the design yells out to passersby that this is a safe and clean and pleasant place for children, the tenor of the park just won’t change.

    I’m also hugely in favor of a low fence around the playground equipment, which will 1) keep the tots from running into the street and 2) provide a small barrier for the men who want to sleep on the equipment. (I love the story of my 2.5 year old playing on the equipment around the man who was literally passed out on it ..”Mommy, that man is very sleepy.”)

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