Save Twin Oaks Garden from becoming a Parking Lot for Powell Elementary School

North Twin Oaks Plot at 14th and Taylor St, NW

A reader passes on the following email about saving the Twin Oaks Garden:

“We are writing to alert you, as members of the community, to a situation affecting the Twin Oaks Community Garden at 14th and Taylor streets NW. As part of the impending large-scale renovation of neighboring Powell Elementary school, the north side of the garden is currently slated for demolition, to be replaced by a faculty parking lot.

This garden is a beautiful space operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), and has been under cultivation for at least seven years by community gardeners, and used for DC’s summer youth programming long before that. Between the north and south sides of the garden, which is divided by Taylor Street, there are a total of 63 10’x15’ plots, five bee hives, three major compost operations, and numerous trees, many of which were just added by Casey Trees.

Twin Oaks gardeners and DPR were not included in the Powell renovation planning process, and only last month became aware of the threat to the garden. We’ve begun a dialogue with the DC Department of General Services (DGS), which is managing the project, to consider alternatives that can both meet the needs of the school and preserve this historic community garden.

Please join us for a public community meeting with DCPS, DGS and DPR to help save the garden and show support for urban agriculture in our community. We believe that with community input and innovation we can arrive at a solution that both improves the school’s facilities and preserves this long-standing green space.

When: Wednesday, June 25th; 6:00 p.m.
Where: Powell Elementary School auditorium, 1350 Upshur Street NW

86 Comment

  • A garden is more important than providing parking for teachers? Please elaborate.

    • Parking cars is more important than growing food? Please elaborate.

      • Yes, if those cars are carrying the teachers and staff who educate the anticipated hundreds of children who rely on this school for an education. Educating children is a government obligation and a civic responsibility; supporting your hobby is not. If you really feel the need to grow your own food, buy yourself some land.

    • In a word, yes. This garden adds more to the neighborhood than a parking lot, and clearly the teachers are finding their way to school every day without the proposed lot. Where are the teachers parking now?

      Also really we’re still doing the “posting comments too quickly” gag? Pop please fix your comment system!

  • definitely agree that improving a public schools facilities is more important than a community garden. hopefully you guys can come to a compromise.

    • austindc

      I would be interested in learning what the new facilities are that warrant the loss of the garden. My first instinct was that it was stupid to trade the garden for a parking lot, but then I realized it must be because they are building something really great for the kids on their existing parking lot, like maybe a community garden.

  • With Powell, Sharp, Roosevelt and McFarland all within 3 blocks… they can’t come up with some other parking scheme than destroying a 7 year old community garden?

    Is it taking both sides of the garden, or just the north side of Taylor?

  • I think a big part of the problem was the lack of communication – the renovation plans were apparently approved last June, but no one ever notified the garden’s management. They found out by coincidence from a parent at Powell, only a month or so after all the gardeners had paid their dues for the season and had spent many hours prepping and planting their plots. Regardless of your thoughts on garden vs. parking, it was handled very poorly.

    • While I sympathize with the gardeners, I think this is illustrative of Twin Oaks’ disconnect from its surrounding community. I gardened there for a couple years, and while the people were lovely most were driving in from other parts of the city. There was a lot of talk about the need to outreach to neighbors and local schools (and some collaborative programming with Bridges, the charter school down the street), but very little action. This is a not surprising end result.

      • This, yes.

      • I am a TO gardener, and I can tell you that the current garden board is much more in touch with the community than you experienced. A Bridges PCS teacher has a plot and brings her class by. If you’ve seen the garden recently, it’s now not an eyesore. And there are quite a few gardeners (including me) who live within a 5-minute walk or bike ride of the garden. There will be alternatives presented at tomorrow’s meeting which hopefully will include the preservation of a similar amount of garden space somewhere proximate to the current location, but this option has not been presented yet.

        The real issue has been the lack of communication about planning for Powell’s expansion. I live within a block of the school, and no list I am on, no ANC meeting, nothing ever notified me that this planning process was occurring. The process has obviously been going on much longer than since this May which is when it was discussed at and ANC meeting referenced below.

  • I am not familiar with the plans or the parking needs of Powell teachers. But in my experience, local planners/architects for this kind of building include excessive parking. They could almost surely achieve their design goals with less space. Whether that would allow Twin Oaks to exist in its current form would still be an open question.

    Unrelated pet peeve: terrible drivers, invariably with MD plate, recklessly pulling into the school parking lot on Iowa Ave near the Petworth library (MacFarland? Roosevelt?) with disregard for pedestrian and vehicle traffic!

  • While I can understand some minor level of frustration for people who hobby garden there, I really don’t see the comparison to the need to expand Powell.

    Powells enrollment has doubled in 5 years to more than 400, with another 200 expected in the next 4. With triple the students, you need triple the faculty, and faculty needs a place to park.

    In overall livibility, I think bettering, and expanding what has been traditionally an awful public educational foundation is far more important to both the neighborhood and city at large than someones hobby garden plot.

    • I agree generally that improving public school facilities is more important than providing hobby garden plots; but generally speaking I would also say that a community garden is much better for any neighborhood than a big patch of asphalt. I have no dog in this fight, and if the school really needs the parking then so be it. But I have no problem with people wanting to take a second look at the plans – it’s always possible that a good solution was overlooked at the expense of an easy one.

    • Community gardening =/= “hobby gardening.” I garden in another space and I’m growing real food that I either consume or preserve to consume later. Gardens also provide habitat for all sorts of insects and birds.

    • What does a parking spot for a car commuting teacher have to do with the expanding number of students at the school? If anything, by providing more parking, you’re more likely to recruit teachers that are disconnected from their school community, have long driving commutes and less time for homework/prep/interacting with students outside of class, who are more likely to not be able to come in to school for a variety of reasons.

      • DCPS teachers get next to zero leeway in selecting the school where they want to teach and so I would doubt is there is more than 1 or 2 existing faculty at the school who live within a ~10 minute walk.

        Like most DCFD and MPD, most are not District residents and so clearly drive to work and the nearst metro stop is a 15 minute walk (per google) so clearly most of the teachers

        Lastly, if you’ve tripled the number of teachers. Where else are they going to park?

        We are treating this plot of grass thats been used for gardening for 7 years as some kind of untouchable sacred ground, which is ridiculous. It was mostly school property to begin with. Users should be thankful they got to use it rent free for 7 years and understand the school has the right and the duty to use their property in any way it needs to to better itself.

        • It wasn’t rent-free; gardeners had to pay annual rental fees for their plots, which is probably one of the reasons they’re unhappy at being told they’re about to lose their plots mid-year.

          • The “rental fees” were maintenance fees used by Twin Oaks to provide tools and supplies, no rent was paid the land owner or the city.

      • I think you would be hard-pressed to find more connected teachers in all of DCPS. Powell has fully instituted the home visit program and all the teachers visit their students in their homes at least once per year. Powell also pariticpates in local efforts such as the Celebrate Petworth festival in the Spring and in the farmer’s market. This is first and foremost a community school and all of the teacher not only participate in that but help to foster those connections regardless of where they live.

  • What a shame! This community garden adds so much to the social fabric of our community. How did we not know about this? What is it with Petworth lately? First they want to make the historic Old Jewish Home a low-income housing project, now they want to take away our beloved community garden? WHERE IS MURIEL BOWSER? Where is our leadership in Ward 4? As a long time resident of Ward 4, I’m starting to see shades of Fenty in Muriel Bowser. How can she neglect her home ward?

    • Someone could easily take an opposing view and point out that the improvement provided in green space to children of the community is worth just as much as the garden space is to the adults of the community.

      Here is the link to the plans.

      • Regardless of one’s position on this issue, as major proposals are shaping & changing ward 4, there has been no leadership or communication from Bowser or her staff. They didn’t even bother to attend the Ward 4 hearing on turning the Old Hebrew Home into a housing project. And now this?

    • Good morning. I am the ANC Commissioner for single-member district 4C-05 that includes Powell and the Twin Oaks Community Garden. It is my responsibility to notify our neighbors regarding this proposal. I thank my neighbors for taking the initiative to schedule this meeting with the various stakeholders. I announced at ANC 4C’s May community meeting that I would lead the effort, but professional and personal responsibilities have hampered my ability to coordinate with the agencies. While Twin Oaks is one of many ongoing projects in my SMD, I am ultimately responsible, and apologize for my lack of bandwidth following the May meeting.

      The effort to rennovate Powell to meet the growing educational needs of our community has been ongoing since 2012. The proposal to install parking at the Twin Oaks site was announced in late-April. The Department of General Services has done a horrible job engaging the community on a range of projects, most notably the rennovation of Roosevelt High School. ANC 4C has requested DGS’ participation at our monthly community meetings for 4 consecutive months regarding Roosevelt, to no avail. I thank DGS for their willingness to engage on Powell/Twin Oaks, but I have to wonder why their staff fail to engage the community in a more thoughtful way.

      Balancing the educational needs of our neighbors, with the benefits derived from the Twin Oaks Community Garden is a challenge. I hope we can identify a viable solution such as developing a garden for students and the community on the future Powell campus. I’ll attend tomorrow to listen to my neighbors as well as the administrators at Powell.

      In closing, Petworth is a terrific community to live in. I see wonderful improvements throughout the community- new hardware stores, rennovated parks, a community market, jazz concerts, a new soccer field at Petworth. This debate is a positive reflection of the changes that are taking place in our community. Thanks again to my neighbors for their leadership.

      • My thoughts, which amount to about $0.10 :
        – We shouldn’t be adding parking lots for neighborhood school teachers.
        – We should encourage teachers to live near their schools. I want my kids’ public school teachers to live in our neighborhood. This isn’t Georgetown. If you don’t like life in a city, then you shouldn’t teach in a city. Teachers should be a part of the community whose children they educate. We should encourage teachers to lead by example and commute by foot, bike, public transportation. Shorter commutes make happier, healthier, more available teachers. A parking lot after a 20 miles drive doesn’t really make up for the 20 miles drive.
        – The ANC commissioner who just posted a speech-comment up there should resign. He takes responsibility in his comment for all the communication efforts he should have made, and blamed personal and professional responsibilities for not doing his ANC job.
        – With that said, 7 years is not “historic”.
        – How about we take the parking-bound portion of those $40M that Powell was extraordinarily going to get to get all renovations done all at once, instead of in several phases like most school renovations were done lately, and pass it on to a neighboring school to finish their basic modernization that got cut short for no clear reason other than Powell suddenly getting $40M???

        • The 800 pound gorilla is the fact that a DCPS teacher can in NO WAY afford any house near this school on their salary. Check recent sale data on nearby Taylor St if you don’t believe me.

          • Accountering

            Please see my points below. Sure, they can likely not afford a rowhome, but there are other options, options that hundreds of thousands of people in this city avail themselves of every day.

          • A single young teacher cannot afford a renovated single-family home within walking distance of their public school in the nation’s capital, so we should create a parking lot for all teachers to buy a house somewhere else and drive in. How far does one even have to drive to afford a house? How far do you have to drive to get a $200k renovated single family home?

        • DC has a shortage of good teachers. I don’t think making teachers bus/metro to Powell and forcing them to move into the district is a good policy. If you want teachers to have short commutes, and want to attract quality teachers, then build them some housing instead of a parking lot.

  • They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

  • Rally people? How about saying thank you for the seven years they let you use their land. If you want a guaranteed piece of land then BUY it.

    • Seems like easy math to me.

      63 garden plots versus the anticipated 400 students + 200 yet to come.

      • Yours seems like apples and oranges comparions maths. The parking lot will not directly benefit 400 or 600 students. It will put more cars on the road and increase greenhouse gas emissions.

  • I’ve been following this debate on a couple of neighborhood listserves and from what I can tell, this email leaves out some really important points:
    1. The north half of the garden is on, and has always been on, Powell property.
    2. The north half of the garden would be relocated to a space at Upshur Park, a block north, not just destroyed altogether.
    3. No one from the garden paid any attention to the fact that a) it’s on Powell property and b) plans have been in the works for at least a year to renovate Powell and move the parking lot.
    4. Powell’s renovation would include greenspace and roof gardens, so it would be a net addition of greenspace, not a net loss.

    • Besides the mature trees they’ll rip out

    • I think you’re missing the big point here – no one seemed to have notified DC Parks and Rec OR the garden that this was happening. Is it the garden’s job to check with every single entity within DC government to see if their projects will impact the land? That doesn’t seem right.

      It’s completely fine for Powell to expand, no one is saying it’s not, but it’s unfair to not include the garden in the discussion at all. If you read the email from the garden, it seems like they’re committed to finding a solution with Powell that benefits both parties.

      • It appears that the communications have been lacking here – but if it is correct that we are talking about the school’s land, I have little sympathy for the gardeners. The school needs to be renovated; the school is going to do renovations on their own land (that the garden has been permitted to use); and that portion of the garden is being relocated. Not sure what discussion is required in that situation. Earlier information? Yes. Discussion (with the implication that the plans are up for debate/subject to change)? That’s a stretch.

        • There’s a schematic available from DGS dated June 2013: Page 3 pretty clearly shows that the garden is on the Powell site and page 15 shows that the garden would be replaced by staff parking. Building C gets a green roof, p. 34, and part of Building D looks to be green from the schematic.

    • If they’re moving it to Upshur Park, I think this discussion should end. Period.

  • I hope they do the parking lot with permeable pavers. More concrete on the ground is just disgusting, and it’s terrible for storm water management. I don’t think this would be too much to ask, especially since they have lots of green building principles in the rest of the site development plans. Perhaps they could also include strips of soil for gardening around the perimeter of the parking lot, since it will be a complete eyesore to look at.

    Also, could they please put some bike racks at that school? There aren’t any at all right now.

    • I agree with all this. I’m generally opposed to the building of ANY new parking, but if you have to do it (and I guess we do, because our teachers all drive in from MD *sigh*), please try not to make it a wasteland of concrete. Trees for shade, permeable surface, etc should be no-brainers.

  • How exactly is this garden “historic”? It is 7 years old. There are 47 other community gardens in the District. I would suggest either applying for space in one of those, or buying a property somewhere that can accomodate your green thumb. Setting aside public space forever, and scaling back or changing a 20 million dollar expansion of a school that will apparently see its enrollment triple in a 10 year period is a laughable idea.

    • The demand for community garden space in DC massively exceeds supply. Twin Oaks is one of the easiest in the city to get a plot at, and its waiting list runs around two years.

      • So does the demand for quality schools and increased public school enrollment. You want to set up a “moral imperative” comparison over some ones garden plot, and expanding Powell, expanding Powell will win every single time

  • I think the teachers deserve parking spots, because they sure as hell can’t afford to live in the District on what they make!

    • Accountering

      Oh here we go again. This is nonsense, teachers are fairly well compensated. A brand new teacher makes $51,000 a year, which is plenty to afford a group house or even an apartment with roommates. None of my friends live alone in the district, and even the three teacher friends I have in the suburbs all have roommates.

      • Canard. Sure, $51,000 is enough if you’re single, young, and willing to live in a group house. Let’s talk about teachers who want to raise a family, or who have a family.

        • Accountering

          Lets talk about them… Sure, there are some of them. There are also some who ARE young, sing, and willing to live in a group house.

          Teachers make relatively good salaries, especially in DC. For the ones with families, they are very likely making more like 70k or 80k, or they have a spouse who is working, and are then over 100k.

          There are plenty of teachers who CAN afford to live in DC. There are also plenty who CHOOSE to live in the suburbs. A blanket statement that they sure as hell can’t afford to live in DC is silly and inaccurate.

        • He/she cited $51k as a starting salary. That’s about what I made as an engineer right out of college. Most people right out of college are young and single, but if they’ve chosen to have a family they can simply commute in via public transit like everyone else.

          • “but if they’ve chosen to have a family they can simply commute in via public transit like everyone else.”

            How generous of you. Like Mao.

            “Everyone else” with kids doesn’t necessarily commute via public transit. Often, the kids — especially infants and toddlers — need to go to a daycare that is not particularly close to work, maybe because none near work had openings. You can weave in and out of traffic on your bike in the rain with two toddlers and bags of groceries, or schlep them from bus to bus for hours, but I’m driving.

      • houseintherear

        Teachers ‘ salaries are majorly cut when you factor in pension fund payments (upwards of $300/paycheck), union dues (mine are $80/month), and the amount of personal money spent on classroom supplies (extremely high in dc, and not able to be written off unless the teacher owns a home which is basically impossible). Not to mention that most local districts haven’t given a step increase raise or cost of living raise in over 6 years. Just for the damn record.

        • Accountering

          I am not saying you are getting rich by any stretch of the imagination. I contribute a sizeable portion of my income to my 401K as well..

          It is silly to say it is impossible for a teacher to own a home… A $51,000 salary will qualify you for a $220,000 house. Coupled with DC EAHP, you can easily buy a studio, and move up from there.

          I get it, there are other costs, and other considerations, but a teacher can also easily pick up a job over the summer. One of my good friends started his summer job two days after his school year ended.

          I am not arguing that you are overpaid or underpaid, just that it is not impossible to purchase/live at those salary levels. Plenty of friends have made it work, at even lower salaries.

          • Right. It’s not like nonprofit employees, GS-7s, and baristas have dedicated parking lots.

          • nonprofit employees, GS-7s and baristas don’t have to cart schools supplies and graded papers to and from school. they probably don’t need to get up at 5 am to get to work or go to professional development classes. Yes DCPS teachers make a fair starting wage, but teaching is one of the hardest professions out there. I personally don’t think if you haven’t been one you have any right to comment on their finances, the level of difficulty of their job or what they have to put up with.

          • I haven’t been one, but my mom and sister are. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be paid more, but it’s kind of silly to say they need parking in a place in a dense urban area. My sister’s managed to haul her supplies around without a car, and she’s tiny.

          • Accountering

            Have you been an accountant? There are plenty of people with difficult jobs. I certainly appreciate what our teachers do, and do feel that salaries should be higher. I am not commenting on that though, because that is not the discussion we are having.
            Plenty of people have to cart things around on buses and they manage to make it work.
            Come on, TONS of people at up at 5am to get to work. I too have to go to professional development classes. I just don’t see what you are getting at here? The argument that because they have some job related impediments means we should provide unlimited free parking just holds no weight with me whatsoever, especially under the original context that they need the parking because they can’t afford to live nearby.

          • Accountering

            Also, this place is less than a block away, and with the above referenced EAHP, could be purchased by a brand new teacher making $51,000. Has a balcony, a nice kitchen, and is a 1BR, not even a studio.


          • why do you care so much about a profession that you have literally no stake in. You don’t know the circumstances of every DCPS teacher or what their job entails, their financial, or domestic limitations. Your arguments aren’t based in anything other than broad generalizations and opinion. Which you have more than expressed. This parking lot is for teachers and is being built on the grounds of property owned by the school.

          • +1 to “a teacher can also easily pick up a job over the summer. “

          • @Accountering – except that the listing demands 20% down (39k) or cash payment. Tough to save up 39k/year when you’re making 51k before taxes.

          • Accountering

            I certainly do have a stake here… I own a house within a mile of this school.

            Please stop changing the subject also. My argument is that teachers can afford to live in the city. You have made nothing but silly arguments, and put teachers on some sort of pedestal, but only when it comes to parking.

            Teachers are awesome, and incredibly important, but they can afford to live in the city, just like tens of thousands of other people do.

          • Accountering

            Please see my above point about the EAHP.

            Regardless of what the listing says, if you put in an offer with financing backing it up, they have the option of accepting.

            All of these points are superfluous to the actual fact, which is that many teachers can afford to live in the city. If they live in the suburbs, it is very often a choice, just like many others choose to live in the suburbs.

          • houseintherear

            Well since you brought it up, we also contribute to 401Ks on top of all that other crap I mentioned. But it appears you care to debate the financials of this argument.
            This school is not in a dense urban neighborhood. This neighborhood has space for parking for staff of the school, and it will provide that parking. I, for example, teach art and would not choose a position at a school where I did not have parking simply because of the amount of supply-lugging I do every day to and from work. Unlike many cities, DC in general does not have many of these “dense urban environment” schools. But, for those who are in denser areas, or do not have designated parking lots, the teachers are well aware of this when they are hired for the position. A colleague of mine, for example, is starting at a school in NE off RIAve next year where there is not any staff parking. She was made aware of this, and it is a part of her contract that she will not attempt to use neighbor parking near the school. To take away parking from existing staff at a school where more parking is needed because the enrollment numbers are increasing so dramatically… for a garden… is absurd. It will limit the hiring of new staff, and probably cause other staff to leave (not a good thing). Usually I don’t debate like this with people who obviously have their minds already made up, but I don’t appreciate where this debate is going and I think other teachers would agree. I believe the point was made that the garden will still exist in the neighborhood, so that’s great and all sides can be content.

          • houseintherear

            you *don’t* care, I meant

          • Accountering

            That is all I was attempting to debate, is the financial aspect. Sure, there are very likely teachers were parking is necessary. It sounds like in your case it is. That is great. There are also plenty of cases I am sure (single parents, large families, extended families living with them, and all sorts of unique situations) where they would need to have a larger home in the suburbs. I completely recognize that. My issue was solely with the statements that teachers sure as hell can’t afford to live in DC. This is simply not true. There are plenty of math teachers and such who work at the same school all year, and could live near the school if they chose too.
            Please don’t make me out to be some child-hating, teacher-hating, get of my lawn grumpy old man. I am nothing of the sort. I am happy to live in a city where we are investing in our schools, and providing universal Pre-K (or at least close) etc. I would like to see more of the same, and do think we should continue increasing our investments in our schools. So much so, that I would be willing to pay more in taxes to achieve this.
            My only point is that it is simply not true that teachers cannot afford to live in the city. I am not arguing for or against the garden. I buy my produce from the grocery store 🙂 I am also not arguing for or against parking for teachers – (though I tend to think we should encourage our teachers to live near school, and walk/bike if possible, but I digress)

          • @Accountering – I doubt a teacher is going to get that awesome apartment, because I’m going to try to get it first! Aside from the plain-jane tile in the kitchen, that place looks amazing, especially given that price! And that part of the neighborhood is beautiful and tree-lined. Thanks for posting the link!
            Hey PoP – how about using it for a “good deal or not” post? Sub-$200k is RARE in DC!

          • houseintherear

            Thanks for clarifying. You have to understand that the “good” parts of teaching are constantly being taken away, and the “bad” parts seem to multiply with every passing year. The idea of taking away one of those little good parts, the ability to drive to work if need be, well… it fires me up. It’s not as though there’s a parking lot being built for students, who are local (ideally). We’re talking about a parking lot for staff who most likely do not live in the neighborhood (by the way, many of us do not want to live in our school neighborhoods because we draw the line between the personal and professional, which many parents do not understand… tangent…)
            Anyway, no hard feelings and I’m glad you have empathy for those in the education profession. Sorry to have gotten worked up. Again, it sounds like the garden will still exist and there can be some peace on this issue.

  • It works for Starbucks.

  • As a former member of the Temple Garden, I feel bad for these folks, but the writing is on the wall. We were incredibly well organized and well-informed and we still lost the space (albeit it was on private property). Not sure how long the renovations will take, but they should at least push to be allowed to finish out this season. If the space is being taken up for teacher parking, then they should be able to hold off till the very end of construction…unless the site is also going to be used as a staging parking lot for construction.

  • I’m a soon-to-be former gardener at Twin Oaks (due to a move), and I’ll just add in my two cents here that address some of the comments above. Ultimately school improvements are very important, obviously, and no one in the garden is disputing the need for them. Informaiton sharing has been pretty piss-poor, however. Here’s some relevant information – not to argue any side in particular, just because it could be informative:

    1. The garden has been managed by DPR for decades, if I’m not mistaken – they had a youth summer program there where neighborhood kids could learn about gardening. That program was shut down a while back and the community garden was formed seven years ago. I don’t know all the history, but I met a woman from the neighborhood who was in her 50s or 60s and was one of the first youth gardeners when she was young. So the garden has been around for a long time.
    2. It seems that the garden’s management was never aware that Powell owned the land. DPR has managed the land for so long that they thought DPR owned it.
    3. The gardeners spend many, many hours of backbreaking labor to get their plots and the common areas of the garden in good shape and keep it that way every year. They have productive plots that provide fresh food. To call it a hobby is pretty belittling.
    4. Powell has said that they notified DPR of the plans in January, but the garden’s contact at DPR knew nothing of the plans when a garden member randomly was told about them (in passing from a parent, not a formal communication from the school).
    5. The garden has identified alternative parking solutions and and sent them to DGS – not sure if they’re being considered at all.
    6. It takes years to develop soil that is productive, not to mention replace the trees, compost operations, and honey bees that are located in the garden. All that work is lost if the garden is relocated.

    I am not optimistic that the garden will be able to change the existing plans, but it is a shame that it has unfolded the way it has. I hope the meeting will be productive and doesn’t turn into a boxing match.

  • While I am fully supportive of community gardens, I really hope the gardeners here drop this issue promptly and allow the city to move forward with their plans to use the space for the needs of the school.
    They say that they have been here for seven years – that’s great! And I’m sure that this corner has looked phenomenally better for those seven years because of them!
    However, one of the BIGGEST points of resistance city wide to allowing temporary use of vacant lots owned by the city or by private developers is this exact issue. The owner doesn’t particularly mind the space being used as a community garden / park / whatever while they are waiting for the new permanent use, but they don’t want to be portrayed as anti-plants / anti-garden / anti-community when they do want to use the space down the road. Since nobody complains when a run-down vacant lot is put to some sort of productive use, so many developers say it is easier for them to leave it like that and not allow these wonderful interim uses because then there is less resistance to whatever they decide to do with it later.
    The garden is beautiful, and sounds like an amazing community resource. But please, let it go peacefully. Mounting a campaign to save what was always meant to be an interim use hurts everybody who lives near vacant lots all over the rest of the city who also want to bring an interim use to the land, because it makes the owners of that land wary of letting us use it in the meantime out of a desire to avoid this exact situation.

    • “However, one of the BIGGEST points of resistance city wide to allowing temporary use of vacant lots owned by the city or by private developers is this exact issue.”
      This is a fantastic point. Temporary, productive use of land shoudl be encouraged, not discouraged.

    • +1

      Mounting an opposition to the reuse of the space will lead to developers to wanting the same use for vacant land.

    • Amen! I loathe the notion of a surface parking lot along 14th Street and lament the loss of the community garden. However, if the redevelopment is killed because people aren’t willing to yield what was supposed to be a temporary use of the land, no land owner in their right mind will ever allow an interim use of their land again. We’ll wind up seeing every vacant lot in the city fenced off and barred from any interim use save weed propagation.

  • DGS has been involved in the planning process and was well aware of the shift in use of the area. It was DGS’s responsibility to notify DPR and the gardeners, not Powell’s. It is a shame that communication was not handled correctly, but why are we, as DC residents, really surprised by this?

    One thing that I have noticed is that quite a few people who have come out against the renovations have not even looked at the plans; the plans call for increased green space, more trees, etc; also the building will utilize several green technologies including green roofs and green HVAC systems that are far more energy efficient than the current plant systems. The parking lot that is proposed is small, with only 22 spaces. It is not an excessive amount, and is needed. While I understand the argument that teachers should be encouraged to live in the neighborhood, this is not entirely realistic and we should not be limited to teachers living within a walking radius. How many of us would turn down a job because it does not offer parking? Also, there are other areas close by in Upshur Park that can be re-utilized as a garden; this is what the meeting is intended to discuss.

    Powell is literally crumbling. We NEED this renovation. The funds we have finally secured have been promised for years, and finally we have them and a community garden is set to derail the plans. My biggest fear is that a garden plot that serves a small minority of the community will prevent a school which serves our most important resource – our children – from improving. Petworth is a GREAT community, but for too long our school have been neglected. It is a crying shame to me that this garden has elicited a greater public outcry and support on the listservs than our schools and the need to improve them. You only have to look at the crumbling facades of Powell, MacFarland, and Roosevelt to see that this community has put very little into it’s schools over the last several decades. This is our chance to reverse that trend. The parents and staff of Powell have been very literally busting their behinds to ensure the success of the school, to make it something we can all be proud of. Please do not derail this process.

    • Nobody is trying to derail the entire renovation. Most recent/ongoing renovations of dcps schools have been done in phases over nearly a decade, and this is going the extreme opposite way: go along with every poorly thought/poorly communicated aspect of the renovation or the whole thing will be delayed. That isn’t true.
      The parking lot can be postponed, the money temporarily reassigned to more urgently needed renovations elsewhere. A parking lot is a luxury, one that is against the better health of the planet and what should be conveyed to children, one that was not communicated to the community properly for whatever reason, one that many neighbors are opposed to. Schools nearby don’t have heating. This is offensive!

      • These renovations are already decades over due, and yes, seeking to alter the plan at this stage will derail them. The plans have been approved, the funding secured, and it is moving forward. To have to change the plan now to allow for the garden will mean altering how construction can occur, will require plans to prevent run off into the garden, etc.

        Lack of communication in this case is not the school’s fault yet it is the school that is suffering as a result.

    • >”The parking lot that is proposed is small, with only 22 spaces.”

      I have looked at the plan, it is 44 spaces, not 22. see, Page 14.


      • Thank you for that link. That document should have been provided by all those claiming to be in the know, a lot earlier in this thread.
        44 spots, plus 10 spots off an alley.

        I call BS on the claim that postponing the parking lot would delay the whole project.

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