Long Established De Facto Soccer Field Taken Over by Newly Planted Trees – Cool or Not?

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Piney Branch Parkway at 17th Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

In the last few days a bunch of trees have been planted in an area of rock creek park that has been used as an informal soccer field for many years. This field is the open grassy area along Piney Branch just north of the Woodner.

I’d be interested in finding out more about the thought process for selecting this area for new trees. Were there any consultations with the public about the best use for this space. Is also like to know what your readers think about planting the trees in an area that has organically become a popular area for public use.”

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38 Comment

  • Classic offsides trap

  • Regardless of whether planting the trees was “cool,” I have no doubt they were planted primarily to prevent use of that space as a playing field rather than to simply add to to the greenery in the park.

    • You’re probably right, but it could be part of storm water/run-off management. It’s close to a stream that feeds into Rock Creek, so maybe there are issues with flooding in the area?

  • Watching the trees grow will be more exciting than watching soccer.

    • Tee hee! I totally agree.

      But more importantly, I agree with the posters below that maintaining a healthy watershed should be a top concern.

      • It may appear untrue since Rock Creek is significant forest, but it is hurting, as is ever-eroding Rock Creek. Trees are being planted in several areas in the park in an attempt to catch up with the die-offs caused by gypsy moths and wind damage. Small trees can’t grow since deer eat them. Hope these make it – pounded down bare dirt is not good for Rock Creek Park.

  • Though I’ve not played pick up there, this seems decidedly not cool. I’m all in favor of trees, but there’s a lack of relatively flat, clear public areas for self-organized pick-up sports in the city.

  • Casual soccer players are slowly being pushed out of public spaces either by organized leagues or park redesign. I run by here regularly and in the spring and summer there’s always a game being played, because all of the real fields are dominated by adult leagues Reminds me of this story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/rec-leagues-vs-pickup-games-two-sides-of-the-playing-field/2012/11/11/0e1e6e54-23be-11e2-9313-3c7f59038d93_story.html

    Sad state of affairs.

    • Meh, I read that article and did not come to close to the same conclusion you did. One group went ahead, did the legwork, paid the permits equal to the cost of their using the field, the other group did not.

    • That story is a piece of race baiting…I’m black and I kick them out because I paid. I pay because I work 10 hours a day and want to make sure the 20 min walk each way to the field is worth it.

    • That article is totally bias trying to make something out of nothing. Proof? Men whistle teams of mainly latinos also play in Roosevelt on the weekends. They just happen to play on a more competitive all men league than the league that regularly plays there during the week (District Sports), which sometimes plays on weekends too. Plus District Sports has diversity, including me.

  • You’d have to ask the National Park Service, as this falls under their jurisdiction. Maybe they didn’t want cars getting hit by errant soccer balls and people darting across traffic to retreve them?

  • This is classic park service. They did it on the ellipse to stop the frisbee players and they’ll do it here to stop soccer matches.

    They have no concern for what DC residents want to use a park for, this is their park and don’t ever forget it.

    The park service has no interest in people, unless you are hiking and looking at the wildlife.

    • Yeah, I get the sense that the Park Service has nothing but disdain and contempt for people who wish to use parks. This is just one more example.

  • From the picture you can tell that players had trampled the grass and compacted the soil, which is pretty bad for parks (check out Meridian Hill Park as evidence). Compacted soil also increases run off, which Rock Creek monitors pretty extensively.

    I do understand being upset at the loss of the field. There are many fields at nearby schools (though artificial turf) that people can play on. If they are overly full or closed to the public, this is an opportunity to raise the issue of the dearth of available fields with community leaders.

  • That’s National Park Service land. Considering that they can’t even be bothered to build a path on the side of Piney Branch Parkway, I can’t imagine that they took any non-nature appreciation uses for that part of the park into consideration at all when they put those saplings in.

  • It’s also a good stormwater management plan. A lot of sediment runs off from non-vegetated areas and ends up in Rock Creek. Stormwater runoff is one of the top sources of contamination in the RC-Potomac-Chesapeake Bay watershed. I’m guessing this will help address that.

    • ESPECIALLY if the area has been used as a soccer field, which means it is really hard packed soil and not much vegetation.

    • Agree – trees provide many benefits that directly and indirectly benefit all of us.

  • I imagine the soccer folks will be up in arms. As for the rest of us, meh.

  • Parks are for selfies, not for sports.

    All games must be registered and licensed through the proper authorities; only then can a game be recognized as an official “Game”.

    Thank God that this epic point-source runoff contamination has been snuffed out.

  • The drainage problem is that Arkansas Avenue is supposed to be a small creek broadening out into Piney Branch, an actual river, for a short while just before reaching Rock Creek. That broadening is right around that area. The side where the trees are doesn’t have the water issues, but on the other side they have a large concreted-up area and the ground is mud under grass for much of the year. It should be a wetland surrounding a stream.

    They should continue the work and take out the concrete in Piney Branch. But seeing as I doubt they’ll do the work to make it a good stream area, it certainly feels vindictive to met to get rid of the best flat grassy area for soccer around there. Would they next consider planting trees in the infield of Upshur Park?

  • Not cool!

  • No such thing as a De Facto Soccer field in Rock Creek…

    Their mission is clear, protecting the park first, recreation comes second. You want to play soccer, call NPS and reserve one of the many free fields, actually designated for that purpose, or visit with a local school and ask them for permission.

    As others had said, I’m sure the De Facto Players themselves there and at other locations have help create the problem which the NPS is correcting by planting these trees.

    Not all park land should be cleared so people can play ball…

    • “Not all park land should be cleared so people can play ball…”

      Who said we were asking for that? What we’re asking for are spaces to play pick-up matches, or football, or catch, or frisbee near our homes. The city took away the soccer court in Shaw near 11th and R — a field that was used almost every day — and replaced it with a friggin’ dog park. I live in Columbia Heights and continually see kids hopping private fences in the evenings so they can play on school fields that are closed to the public. We need open, accessible spaces for people to play on. We have a decent amount of parkland — surely a middle ground can be reached.

      • Sure, but talk to the DC government about that. NPS is a federal organization tasked with preserving national parks, of which Rock Creek Park is one. Their purpose is not to provide recreational spaces for local residents, but to preserve parks for the benefit of all citizens. Sure, sometimes those overlap, but don’t fool yourself about which one gets priority.

    • Looks like the NPS got all facto on that pitch.

  • austindc

    Damn Ents and their moots.

  • They just wanted the woods behind the Woodner to be a little more rapist friendly.

    • Exactly. Looks like they are creating a secluded spot back there – perfect for crime or a nice grassy homeless encampment.

  • “This field is the open grassy area along Piney Branch just north of the Woodner.”
    Except it’s not a grassy area, it’s an area where the grass has been destoyed by over use. It does no one any good to have fields of mud.

  • I wonder if the NPS considered how disenfranchising their actions were to the mainly latino people who play soccer there. I drive by there a lot and I think that game/tradition is really positive. Statistics suggest a lot of those guys work hard, low-wage jobs and live far from their original communities. I play soccer too and it helps me let go of the stresses of work, parenthood, money… Kind of a big middle finger from NPS.

    I would have liked to see NPS find some appropriate land, build a field, and properly communicate the whole thing to the community.

    • I don’t think you understand the mission of the NPS. Or maybe you just don’t agree with it. Based on the number of latinos and other minorities I see enjoying the park on a regular basis I don’t think it’s fair to say anyone is being “disenfranchised”.

    • Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if those trees are removed soon. I think the park service may learn the hard way that it’s not smart to mess with DC’s vibrant and capable landscaping business community.

  • Not cool. I’ll bet that one year from now there will be a new trampled dirt soccer field somewhere else along the Piney Branch. What the Piney Branch really needs is a bike path that connects Arkansas Ave. to Porter Street. That stretch of road is dangerous for bikers, especially now with all the potholes. The de facto soccer field was harmless, in my opinion. I don’t see anyone else begging to use that space.

    • ^^this. I see joggers and bikers squeezed on the narrow, uneven path to the north side of the road. Putting a path in to connect Piney Branch to the Rock Creek bike path would be great.

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