“Amigos Park” proposed for space next to 7-11 in Mount Pleasant

Mtp pocket park
via Amigos Park’s Facebook

“Dear PoPville,

Have you heard about this? Looks great — the communal gathering space in front of the 7-11 in Mt Pleasant is going to be turned into a proper park:

“Amigos park is a design+build public space initiative in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, DC.”

OP also passes on a note from NextDoor that says: “”A group of neighbors are working with Open Architecture DC and Green Spaces for DC to design and build a pocket park next to 7-11 at the NW corner of Mount Pleasant and Kenyon.”” Updates as plans progress.

38 Comment

  • I love the idea of more public space, but that area is already a gathering spot for middle-aged men to gather and drink all day. I’m not sure providing more comfortable seating is going to do anything to change that.

  • If people could please not lose their minds over this the way they did for proposed park space in the empty lot at 19th & Lamont, that would be great.

    • Wasn’t the backlash against that one largely driven by our very own Jack McKay?

      • Yeah. That was just jack protecting the portion of his yard that was annexed from the park and the illegal fence enclosing it.

        • …while claiming he was representing the wishes of the tenants of the adjacent apartment building. Which is not even in his SMD. Yep, that’s our Disingenuous Jack.

  • I think this is great. I don’t think it will change the guys sitting around, but I don’t think that’s the point – this will give them a more dignified space to hang out, not in the middle of the sidewalk. I hope that the project crew gets some good community involvement from them.

    • Agreed. The biggest issue with the current set-up is the “all over the sidewalk” issue. The new park would help with that, I think

      • Agreed. Those guys will continue to hang there even if there is no park. Let’s move them off the sidewalk and out from in front of the 7-11. I hope this happens sometime this year : )

  • We suck at parks. I walked through Meridian Hill Park this morning, and one year after the massive turf work, it’s all bare dirt again. Other cities, bigger and busier than ours, manage to keep grass alive. Can we send a few NPS employees on a boondoggle to Paris to figure out what we’re doing wrong?

    • given that the bathrooms at the jefferson memorial have been out of service for weeks i doubt NPS is getting to the grass in meridian hill park any time soon.
      but i do love nps and am a huge supporter of parks both in my actions and my donations. also i think this pocket park is a fantastic plan and will improve our neighborhood.

    • It’s not that NPS employees don’t know how to do it – it’s that NPS doesn’t have the funds to do it properly. They’re short-staffed and overworked with limited maintenance budgets. There’s a $12b backlog because they haven’t been properly funded for years. If we want nice things we have to pay for them…

      • This doesn’t seem accurate to me. They spent a year and god knows how much money restoring Meridian Hill park, and the improvement lasted less than a year. If they knew they wouldn’t be able to maintain it, why pour all that money into it in the first place? It looked like incompetence. They can’t have imagined that the funds would magically materialize just when they were needed.

      • Meridian Hill park is a de facto soccer/football/frisbee field. A large flat space in a dense urban area with few other options for necessary community sport. We (taxes) did in fact pay a whole lot to restore the grass, but I don’t know if any grass can sustain the intense use.

  • I live near here. A longtime neighbor said the current setup (fenced in with trees) was itself an accomplishment in its day — and no one is around anymore to recall that (except him). What’s wrong with the fenced in area? To know what the future of the open park is, look no further than the parks at Mt Pleasant’s antipodes. It will be a dreary hangout with lots of trash. Not awful, but not an improvement over the patch of natural peace it is now.

    • I’m happy to see all the enthusiasm. However, while it seems like a great idea, as a long-term Mt.Pleasant resident who lives close to this area, trash, public urination, and rodents are a huge problem at this corner and the block, which a lot of folks who don’t live near by don’t understand. We have 2 parks at the beginning and end of Mt. Pleasant street, Lamont Park and the park between Harvard and Columbia Road that are not very well utilized and one due to a huge rodent problem. I would just like the organizers of this effort to consider what’s not working at these other 2 parks to ensure we don’t waste a lot of precious resources creating yet another public space that few utilize or well maintained. Please ensure that the landscaping is not rodent friendly otherwise we’ll have 3 parks empty with the guys still hanging on the sidewalk. Best of luck!!

      • The “rat” park between Harvard and Columbia is “Rabaut Park,” named for a long-dead Congressman from Michigan. It’s officially part of Rock Creek Park and maintained by the National Park Service, just like the little sliver across from it on Mount Pleasant St with the statue of Francis Asbury, the plot at 16th and Lamont with the memorial to the inventor of radio (and fascist supporter of Mussolini) Guglielmo Marconi, and the triangle park with the statue of a pope in front of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Catholic church. Unfortunately, Congress has underfunded the National Park Service for so long that these little parcels get scant priority. The plaza where the farmer’s market is held is known as “Lamont Park” and it is owned and maintained by DC, and several residents work hard to keep it tidy.

        • That is not a statue of a pope. It’s a statue of a cardinal from Baltimore. James Gibbons I think!

          • HaileUnlikely

            Correct!

          • Egads! Mea culpa! I saw the “Pius” &tc inscription on the back and made an assumption.

          • James Cardinal Gibbons was Archbishop of Baltimore when DC was still in that diocese (we are now our own archdiocese). Facing the statue, the plinth says it’s Gibbons. Maybe the other side notes the pontificate in which it was dedicated. It was paid for by the Knights of Columbus. Cardinal Gibbons was tapped by Leo XIII who was very pro labor.

        • we always called the park where the market is located Bus Turn-Around Park

  • I think we’re missing a real public-private partnership opportunity. How is this not proposed to become Parque Tecate?

  • Those are some fine MS Paint skills

  • Fantastic! Let me get this straight: the ANC is totally cool with encouraging the inebriated dudes who already loiter outside 7/11 to continue drinking, play fighting, littering, and smoking day in and day out by creating a public space for them, but not ok for creating a neighborhood play space in an empty lot a few blocks down…

    • Howdy!

      A POPville post about this effort is probably premature. A few folks from Open Architecture DC are volunteering their time to draft some plans for a revamped park space here. It’s very early days and much needs to be done with getting permission from DDOT and the owners of the 7-11 as well as securing funding. It has not come up before the ANC and probably won’t for a while, although I’m happy to help the effort along.

      At our recent January 24 meeting (and the first meeting of the new term), the ANC authorized the creation of a “Public Space” standing committee. We need to agree on the details of this, but my hope is that it will help us work on solutions for all of the many parks and public space issues identified in this article’s comments.

      At the November 2015 meeting, last term’s ANC voted 3-1 in favor of DPR pursuing the development of a playground in the lot by 1900 Lamont. The resolution is here:

      https://static1.squarespace.com/static/574f2c54b6aa608304000a38/t/5772a3b46b8f5ba8b558c613/1467130804276/improve+1900+Lamont+park_Nov+2015.pdf

      The main hold up has been that DPR does not own the land. DDOT does. DDOT needs to authorize DPR to develop it. Feel free to call or email DDOT Director Dormsjo about how long it’s taken.

      cheers,

      Jon
      ANC1D-01

      • Prince Of Petworth

        Never too early Jon, never too early! Also, I do a double take every time I see your name. Keep us updated and we’ll check in on the Amigos Park facebook page from time to time too!

      • Jon,

        In addition to 7-11 you will need to go the public space committee at DDOT with drawings. They will want someone to assume the insurance and maintenance for such a spot. I have always felt bad for the cherry tree there. It was part of the donation of trees to Main Street but was too shady for it. It 2 siblings are at the park in front of my house between the 2 Mount Pleasants on Park. Road. they are offspring (clones) of the ones at the tidal basin. I have no position on the park but if I can help with eh PS committee let me know. There was a group of people in the neighborhood that got the fences etc. put in and the peace pole. I have no idea if they still maintain it.

  • Sorry, I love the idea of a public plaza but I am 100 percent against giving guys a place to loiter, chuck their 40 oz bottles and piss. If the behavior weren’t happening already I’d give it a chance. I have two female friends who live around the corner in different buildings and they are NOT in favor.

  • It is so disheartening to hear neighbors talk so disparagingly about other neighbors. This neighborhood has been a refuge for well meaning people to share and give to others since we moved here in 1973. We are talking about improving a space for all to use. While our country is closing doors to refugees, let us not close our minds to bring kind to our neighbors. Those men who play checkers are part of our community . Stop being so mean in your remarks please.

    • I suspect you live in one of those big houses on park row right. BTW those of us who live within a block of this corner are always happy when we see so many of you come up to Mt. Pleasant street to pick up trash, dead rats and that the scouring of live ones doesn’t scare you off. The tone of your response is why we lost the election. Listen to what people are saying despite their choice of words, which can be telling too. Appreciate all your help.

  • As a 44 year long resident of Mt. Pleasant I support the incorporation of the Amigos Park for the use of many who could use said park for relaxation friendly games of chess and checkers. I personally enjoy stopping to watch the games played on home made cardboard checkerboards with improvised bottle caps for checkers. Men congregating on street corners have been misconstrued many times. A wonderful book on this subject is “Tallys Corner” which takes place in DC and tells of street corner life of African American men and how people misunderstand that these were not vagrants but men who worked late night jobs and used mornings to socialize and catch up with friends.

    These men on Amigos Park corner have been there as long as my wife Jan and children have lived on Kenyon St. (not a big house on Park Road, not that there’s anything wrong with Park Road”), these men have always been friendly, courteous, and seem to enjoy there time and space. They bring a cultural aspect to our neighborhood that I have always enjoyed and hopefully the New Park will include Chess, checkers and dominos tables and that will encourage everyone to participate and enjoy our wonderful culture we have in this unique neighborhood.

    I at times do carry a special pole to pick up trash and plastic bottles on my walk to the gym, my bag is sometimes full before I reach Mt. Pleasant so I empty it and continue, I have seen others doing the same and do encourage my neighbors to help. This is OUR neighborhood meaning everyone and keeping it clean is OUR civic role to play. I have approached our councilperson a few times now about recycling plastic water bottles and cans, it’s like money in the streets to me and this city could benefit from deposits.

    • Thanks Phil for your thoughtful response. I’m not sure if your aware but the owner of 7-11 put up the fence in the designated area many years ago as very few in OUR community were helping to keep that space up and both 7-11 and McCormick’s regularly get fined by the city for trash on that block. In just the last year the owner of 7-11 felt the need to up additional fencing on the side of 7-11 to further protect the property as his continued requests from the men congregating to help keep the area clean have been repeatedly dismissed. Consider too that the folks who live in the condo building right behind the 7-11, the residents along 17th street and the apartment building across the streets are hard working people too, many of whom work for non-profits and organizations trying to make the world a better place and all their asking for is support from the community in holding EVERYONE who lives in Mt. Pleasant equally accountable. Why do these very capable men deserve a pass at keep the area that they hang out clean. Like you said, most of these men have jobs and are a net plus to the community in so many intangible ways. If these were your children would you be as tolerant of the trash. Have your considered what if would feel like if your neighbors didn’t take care of their property and you were continually cleaning up after them. Why no support for the white working class of Mt. Pleasant, do we not deserve support. And know too that the reason this area has not been transformed, after many years of effort is because WE fail to hear the concerns of ALL the communitY and therefore the city stalls in taking responsibility for this area because its just not worth it and the folks who live in the immediate vicinity have loud silent voices. So until WE are able to sit down and address EVERYONES concerns i doubt much will come of this area.

  • The park will accommodate people here illegally, will lower the property values of legal residents living nearby, and the city will ask those legal residents to pay for the park with their taxes? If you don’t find this loopy, there is something wrong with you. I am going to move if this happens.

    • Hi Bruno,

      I don’t think the fellows hanging out on the corner are illegal. Most are hard working men who live in nearby apartments and unfortunately these apartments don’t have any outdoor space which is why they gather at the corner. From what I’ve heard from neighbors and neighboring businesses is that they’d just like these guys to take some real ownership of this area, clean up the trash and hold others accountable too. Just don’t want the conversation to get too off track. Appreciate your thoughts.

      • Last time i checked in this country, consumption of alcohol in the streets was still pretty much illegal…

        What i see is that the do-gooders and the feel good crowd want to give the people already drinking there a more comfy place to do so, because we have to be kind to each other. Never has it occurred to them that drunk dudes arent always behaving the best in all circumstances and that it could encourage catcalls, peeing everywhere, and basically mobilize public funds (your and mine) for the enjoyment of a half-dozen of drunks. Do you think a group of 20-yr old girls will just sit and enjoy this park on a sunny spring day?
        Probably not, but the same do-gooders probably don’t live in the immediate vicinity of the park so no big deal. The few times they will walk in front, it will be colorful and authentic and reflect the charm of DC….
        yeah buddy….

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