On Saturday, December 8 a group of residents and DC officials gathered for a community walk through of Langdon Park and the surrounding area.
Councilmember McDuffie put together the walk through at the urging of Cheryl, a resident concerned with the state of the Park, Recreation Center, 9/11 Memorial Grove and surrounding area.
On the walk through we were joined by several of McDuffie’s staff, an officer from MPD, DC Department of Parks and Recreation and DC Department of General Services (DGS handles capital improvements to parks, while DPR maintains them). We were also joined by outgoing ANC Commissioner Patricia Brown-Daniels, representatives from the Langdon Dog Park Association, as well as a representative from the DC Horseshoe Pitchers Association, which uses the horseshoe pits in Langdon Park. The walk through came together in less than a week, so it was tough to get the word out, but I did flyer 75 houses between the park and Rhode Island Avenue, which I think helped turn some residents out. We had about 20 residents attend, though it’s hard to know exact numbers since folks came and went.
If you live near the park or have spent any time there, you can surely come up with your own list of issues that should be addressed. The following are some notes on the issues that came up in the walk. We’ll likely have a follow up walk through in February or March to see how things are progressing, check back here or sign up for my email list to make sure you hear about that walk through.
Park Maintenance – There are lots of issues that fall into this bucket. Residents are concerned about the vegetation growth and dark corners that it creates. People would like better signage throughout the park, some folks use one end of the park and don’t even know the amenities at the other end. Folks also asked for more trash cans, to discourage littering. We specifically asked for more trash cans to be installed on 20th street outside the Rec Center (there used to be trash cans there, but they were not the ones that are installed in the ground, so they didn’t stick around or got turned over)
Safety – There is concern about people loitering in the park and using it after dark. Many of the residents that live near the park told about the evidence of prostitution taking place in the park that they routinely encounter. The MPD officer noted the concerns and said he’d make sure more attention was paid to these issues.
I also learned that DPR has Park Rangers that are out patrolling all of DC’s parks at any given time. In addition to calling 911, if you see something suspicious, you can also call 202-441-2605 to reach the Ranger(s) that are working at that time.
Events and Permitting – There was lots of concern from folks who live right on the park about permitted events in the pavilion in the summer. Residents complained that events begin during the day and are within their permits, but they last long into the night, which shouldn’t be allowed since the park should close at dark. DPR suggested using the phone number above to contact the Park Rangers in that situation. The Park Rangers are the ones who enforce those permits. (And I recommend also calling 911 – MPD – since it can’t hurt!)
Parking – There was a back and forth on parking and the parking lot that sits by the Rec Center and Dog Park. It’s believed that the parking lot is not actually a sanctioned parking lot, but at the same time, many people use it and find it helpful. It was suggested that a gate could be installed at the driveway point, so that the parking lot can be used when the park is open (during the day) and locked at night. It was also discussed that the surface of the lot and access ramp should be improved, since it’s very lose gravel and rocks.
Horseshoe Pit – There was lots of discussion of the use of the horseshoe pit. Many people may not know, but there is a vibrant Horseshoe League that uses the horseshoe pits almost every day. The folks that use the horseshoe pit are concerned about the lack of restroom facilities. They say they currently use the Woodridge Library or Rec Center, when they’re able, but that those hours sometimes don’t work and the library will soon be closing for reconstruction. Some kind of toilet facilities (port-a-john or otherwise) was requested. There is also concern that people use the horsehoe pit area after dark and, well, aren’t playing horseshoes.
Lighting – Just generally everyone felt there needed to be more lights on the park. We asked that the lights along the ballfield on 24th Street be used more frequently (not just when the field is being used), to discourage what can happen in the shroud of darkness. DPR said they sometimes hear different things from different communities about lighting (ie some neighborhoods want the lights out around dark), but it seemed to be the consensus among residents that more light is better.
Chuck Brown Park – As you may know, the half of the park west of 20th street is being renamed in honor of the late Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown. The bill to change the name has now passed the council and I’ve been playing some phone tag (complicated by the holidays) with folks on Mayor Gray’s team to ensure that some upgrades are included the new sign we’ll be getting. It didn’t really come up much during the walk through, but I will be tracking that progress (as best I can) and updating here.
9/11 Memorial Grove – Many residents don’t know, but Langdon Park is home to Ward 5’s 9/11 Memorial Grove (there is a memorial grove in all eight wards). The trees on the west end of the park (by 18th and Franklin) make up the Ward 5 9/11 Memorial Grove. Many of the trees have fallen on hard times since they were planted in the mid-00s, but – thanks to the aforementioned Cheryl’s hard work – there will be a tree planting with Casey Tres on May 4, 2013 to replant some of those trees. Among the amenities needed for the park (be it via the Chuck Brown Park improvements or otherwise) is a water source so these trees can be watered. Cheryl has volunteered to coordinate waterings, but she can only do that if there is a place to get water. Personally and as an ANC Commissioner, I feel strongly that we need to find a way to include this water source in the park before May.
There were other issues that came up, but I think that covers the major ones. Of course, there is no immediate funding to make any major changes, but some of this stuff can be addressed through current procedures. Assuming that I recieve ample notice about the follow up walk through, I will make sure that as much notice as possible is given for the next walk through.