Dear PoP – District Dept of the Env Closed the 11th and Monroe Park

“Dear PoP,

Apparently on Friday (I was out of town Fri–Sun but hear this from a neighbor) there was demo work being done on the building one up from the northeast corner of 11th and Monroe NW. They failed to properly seal the building and some nasty dust flew out as a result, coating the alley running perpendicular to Monroe between 13th and 11th. Enough of this got into the park at 11th and Monroe that the District Department of the Environment closed it down for testing.

It’s lead that they’ve determined is in the area. Anyone who has visited the park or lives nearby can get tested at some place around 14th and Girard. I haven’t heard back from DDOE, but apparently they’ve had lots of folks at the site during the day. Hopefully other people have better info. I got back home late tonight so most of the folks who hang out in the park (and who are now displaced onto the sidewalk) had gone home and no one was sitting on the stoop with news.

I don’t know if you know anything about the building in question (one unit up on the east side of 13th, north of Monroe), but it’s been empty/boarded up since I moved into the area in November. I’d say the rumor is that it was the cause of the contamination, but I haven’t heard that from anyone 100% in the know.”

Crazy, I saw the testing truck driving away down 11th St, NW last night. Thanks to all who sent emails about this.

16 Comment

  • there’s a part of me that wonders if someone who wasn’t so fond of the drunk guys perpetually in the park may have called in the “environmental problem.” if so, the joke’s on them, as now they’re on the steps.

  • sorry, my email to PoP misstated something: the building in question is on 13th, not 11th, so the first sentence should read:

    “…there was demo work being done on the building one up from the northeast corner of 13th and Monroe NW.”

    my bad.

  • thats one way to get the drunks out of the park.

  • can’t be any worse than the other contaminants in that park – I took my toddler there once and was disgusted with all the filth on the floor and playareas. Why can’t we have a nice, decent park where children can play? What can we/the police do to get these drunks out of there?

    • nothing, unless you can affect some changes in opinion for your local police commander, i’d guess. reference discussion from march about this:

      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.

  • The issue right now is not the people who loiter in this park. The issue is that a WEEK ago today, Officials were notified by DDOE that there was lead contamination in the area due to the construction. I found out about this yesterday (by complete coincidence), and I’m struggling to find any information/details from anyone – DDOE or Councilmember Graham’s office.

    • 100% agree. DDOE has been friendly over the phone, but not forthcoming with information. I’m out of my apt. from 7:00am–8:00pm so it’s hard to get info from the DDOE folks apparently at the park. my neighbors knew about the initial issue from the construction, but nothing on the follow up. my sense is that it can’t be too serious if they’re not doing on site testing, but who knows? regardless, it will be interesting to hear what action is taken with regards to the construction on 13th street. for all those on 11th with backyards abutting the alley, this especially is worrisome. old buildings can have some nasty stuff in them.

      re: the issues brought up by other commenters, the folks who hang out in the park during the day are definitely not all drunks. i thought the comments from the march discussion on this blog were well thought out and reasonable. demonizing and grouping together all those who hang out there is intellectually lazy and ultimately counterproductive. you’ll wind up alienating folks and accomplishing little.

      please everyone share any info you hear on the lead issue. i’ll post or email PoP if i can get info from DDOE.

  • I was walking near the park with my two children yesterday and was stopped by a very friendly DDOE employee who highly recommended I get my children tested for lead since they had done air tests. We went to the trailor, got the bloodwork done, fine. It should be a huge concern that neighbors are not aware of 1)the situation and 2) the recommendation to get children (esp. under teh age of 6) tested.

    I ditto the request for people to share any information they receive.

  • What isn’t clear is what the city plans to do to address the contamination. How might this affect the renovation plans underway? Last I heard the renovation design was approved last spring and received budget approval over the sumer, but has not been scheduled as a priority by DPR. Will this new development hurt or help our chances of getting a new park anytime soon?

  • The location for testing has been moved from the Columbia Heights Recreation Center to a truck parked at 11th and Monroe. Channel 9 News was onsite and interviewed me and my 3-year-old daughter as we were getting tested. The story should air around 7pm tonight unless it gets bumped. I gave the reporter an angry earful about the park and it’s usual state of affairs, which will probably end up on the cutting room floor.

    I spoke with a DDOE representative who was extremely kind and helpful and assured me that there is an active investigation underway and those responsible will be held accountable. They are trying to pinpoint the exact time of contamination, partially through testing and interviewing users (including the gentlemen who frequent the park and are at most risk).

    Hopefully this terrible development will bring enough public scrutiny and outrage to effect positive change.

  • I called 311 to try to get some information about the building where this happened, if I live at 13th & Monroe should I be concerned and got transferred from the Mayor’s office twice and finally ended up at the Dept of Health. The woman there told me it was “downright lazy” of them since the Mayor’s office is supposed to be dealing with this. I could only get testing information from her which apparently they are doing tonight until 8pm at 1480 Girard #309.

  • Who should be tested? Only those who have actually used the park, or people who walk by it on occasion, or live within X number of blocks?

  • haven’t been able to get any info from DDOE, but did get a very prompt response from CM graham’s office saying that questions had come up as to how well residents in the area had been informed–especially those with kids–and that his office would be “tak[ing] a systematic approach, to inform those who may be at risk and the need to go to the lead poison testing van.” i had written encouraging his office to encourage DDOE to better supply information to the public. i was also a little surprised there were no spanish language signs at the park, especially considering how many spanish speakers with kids are on our block.

  • From what I understand, the park reconstruction has been shifted to the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization. Supposedly, the funds are still there and this won’t affect the community input into design process, which is already complete, and bids should be going out for the professional landscape design contract within the next six to seven weeks. No projected construction start date, yet. Hopefully this will actually be happening. If anything, this makes the situation all the more urgent.

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