A couple of weeks ago I signed a petition in favor for a dog park at Bundy. I don’t own a dog and have no plans to own one in the immediate future. However I do benefit from having a neighborhood with responsible owners with well trained dogs, like I benefit from living on a block dominated by homeowners. It’s not my house or my dog, but the actions that the homeowners and dog owners take, or have incentives to do, that improve the neighborhood and improve my quality of life here.
I will also note that I don’t live in Ward 2 where the proposed parking lot/field is. I’m over in Ward 5, so my opinion doesn’t matter or count. But I have an opinion and Ward 5 owners over in the Truxton area would more than likely use it, and it is very unfortunate that our voices won’t count.
One could say it is a children vs dogs, white vs black, adults vs children, greenspace vs pave the world, or a slew of other A vs B. For me ‘A’ is comprised of those residents who wake up within comfortable walking distance (everyone has a different comfort level) from the parcel of land in question. This includes white residents, black residents, Latino residents, Asian residents, multi-racial residents, grandmas on fixed incomes whose companions are little yippie dogs, single women who got dogs for security, kids that pestered their parents to get a dog, other people with dogs and their friends who may not have dogs, but like dogs. What I have noticed with the increase of having neighbors with dogs is there are people walking around in the morning when I go to work. Those people are more eyes on the street adding to my personal safety. There are people walking around in the evening when I run errands. There are neighbors, people I’ve met at BACA meetings or other gatherings, who are out, available for a quick word, a wave hello because they have to walk the dog. More people on the street encourage more people to get out and walk, dog or no, which improves the health of the resident community.
For a while my dog owning neighbors would walk their dogs in the alley, which in turn, discouraged drug stashing and other negatives that were problems.
I consider a convenient location as something that you can walk to at a regular pace in 10 minutes, 15 maybe. The Shaw dog park is past my 10 minute range and I walk fast, so a convenient location is Bundy.
Another point, Shaw as a whole has a lot, a lot of social service organizations of various sizes that do a lot of great work from providing day care for children of families with AID/HIV, homeless services, counseling, food distribution, poverty advocacy, you name it, it comes with the diversity of the neighborhood. One would hope that new social services moving to the area would become good neighbors. Unfortunately with the sensitivity of the function of Safe Shores, I can see how it could develop into a fortress to keep out the community in order to maintain privacy and security. That sort of thing would not make the surrounding area safer or secure. Besides asking for variances and other permissions, I don’t foresee much future interaction with the surrounding community. I can foresee walking by a darkened parking lot at night, making that corridor of P Street scary and dangerous.
The other thing is does Safe Shores really need 100 parking spaces? Since the organization’s parking space would come from government owned land that we believed slated for community (and one hope ‘community’ in this sense means nearby residents) use, the community should question the need for the number of spaces. Does it need 25 spaces? 30? and why. This isn’t Largo, MD or other parts of suburban Maryland where parking is a given. This is central, Old City DC, and free parking isn’t a guaranteed right. Nor should it be automatically given no questions asked to non-profits and other organizations no matter how nobel the mission. Safe Shores will not be the last social service locating to the area if history is a guage. I understand counsellors and parents coming from other wards will need parking, but how much?