Protect the greenspace

If you don’t know already the District government has it in its head that the park at New York and 1st Street is not really used and temporary housing for Sursum Corda co-op residents. There will be a meeting tonight so residents can vocalize their opinions.
Under used they say. But that’s the beauty of green space, to be a pause, a comma, in the constant rush of city life. It is a place for animals to run around and not have their paws constantly hitting pavement. Unless they plan on putting a green roof on top of the “temporary” houses, this greenspace allows for another place where rainwater can seep into the earth.
According to the Post:

Planning officials said the city has addressed that[loss of park]. Though the neighborhood would lose the New York Avenue Playground, it would gain a new park, recreation center and swimming pool two blocks south at First and L streets NW. The city also would redesign a park at the Armstrong School at First and P streets NW and upgrade a park at New Jersey Avenue and O Street NW.

A rec center on the other side of the road of DEATH does not help. NY Ave is a road of death. A skull and crossbones on the grill of a monster SUV driven by a multitasking cell phone chattin Virginian road of death.
Call us NIMBYs all you want, but no, no thank you. We’ve got our own problems of drug dealers, shootings, prostitution, robberies, car theft and really that’s enough of a burden on its own. Slowly, slowly, slowly, the residents and officials of our area have been working to decrease the drug dealing and violence, my fear is that what has been gained will be loss with a relocation of Sursum Corda. We had our problems on this side of NY Ave, they had their problems on that side of NY Ave and sometime a trickle would cross the 6 lanes.
Also I’m just not buying the “temporary” argument.
As I write this I keep thinking of a short story I read in high school. I think the title is “Sorrow rides a swift horse.” The main theme of the story was whatever problems you are trying to escape will follow you and catch up to you. The problems of Sursum Corda’s violence and drug problems are well known, their financial problems and problems with HUD, maybe a little less so. Whatever problems they have will move with them.

Flower Power Garden 2005 Tour

It was hot. Hahwwt. And humid. And yet we had several brave souls who came out anyway.
Before we ventured out for touring Councilman Vincent Orange and his entourage showed up. Orange was wearing Mardi Gras beads around his neck and I’m thinking, why? One of his people worked the tiny group milling about in the alley between Bates and P, asking if they were registered to vote in DC and if they were Democrats. They came, they saw, they chatted, they left.
The properties on the tour ranged from mediocre to ‘wow’. One ‘wow’ yard was 408 Richardson Place, NW. You can see it over the waist high fence. I’ve been told the owner likes to show it off so if you see him ask about what he’s done. Another wow, also on that block was the back of 1722 4th St. Small patio, two fountains! They had a before picture up and the after was a dramatic improvement. Filed under ‘wow’, but not because of it’s beauty, take a look at the corner yard of the house owned by the Korean church at 319 R St. They had tomatoes, brussel sprouts, melons, lettuces, and much more growing in a tiny space. You could feed a family on what they had growing in that yard.
Scott and Matt’s yard, the one you had to get through the house to get through for those of you who toured, had garden ideas to steal. I liked the mirrors they have up on the fence reflecting light. Matt explained to our group that things had to be up high, because of the dogs. I loved the look of Corsican mint in the walkway of 408 Richardson.
At the end of the tour we settled in at where we started, the rear of 75 P St., which looked like the patio section of a restaurant. The pineapple salsa was very good, so was more cold water.
Another mayoral candidate also showed up at our humble and hot tour, Marie Johns. I don’t think she came armed with an entourage like Orange. Just her, dressed casually, and one of those funky hands free phone thingies. No beads. MaryAnne introduced Ms. Johns to individuals languishing in the heat and the shade. No grand speeches, just asking for support. We’ll see.

Important Community Meeting re. the Impact Upon the Sursum Corda “New Communities Project” and Our Neighborhood

From Jim Berry

Single Member District 5C02 Representative Cleopatra Jones is hosting a meeting on Monday, August 15, 2005 to talk about a proposal by the DC Office of Planning to build housing on the land (green space) that is now occupied by the New York Avenue Playground. Cleopatra tells me that Ward Five Council Member Vincent Orange, Revitalization Planner Michael Downey, and Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation Kimberly Flowers, are all invited guests to this meeting.

If my understanding of what is being proposed is correct, then an approximately 100 unit building will be constructed on what is now the site of New York Avenue playground. The sole purpose of proposing that these units be constructed, I am told, is to accommodate those who will be displaced by the tearing down of the current housing in Sursum Corda.

In my mind, such a proposal raises a number of serious concerns. First, the affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission (i.e., 5C) never received any formal notice of the consideration of this proposal, nor have we been invited to comment on a major housing project that the city is considering implementing in an area that is solidly within the boundaries of ANC 5C. As a rule, proposals of this scope and magnitude are vetted formally at an ANC meeting and the Commission is given a certain period of time within which to offer comments. In the instant situation, none of this customary procedures were followed and, for me, this is a very very troublesome fact.

The fact that this is yet another assault on the sorely limited amount of functional recreation and green space in the neighborhood, is also a major problem for me. Over the years, our recreation and leisure time resources have been systematically stripped away from us, leaving residents of all ages (but, most notably, our children) with few, if any, alternatives for their use. As a consequence of the lack of organized activities, they organize themselves and play on our streets or, worse, boredom often makes them ripe subjects for the recruitment of drug dealers.

The area in question is located in Commissioner Jones’ single member district. When she contacted me a day or so ago about her intention to hold Monday’s meeting, I learned that she received a briefing on the proposal by DC Office of Planning officials the day before. Again, there has been no formal notice to our Commission about this proposed project and it is my understanding that the DCOP has been contemplating this matter for a time.

Whatever the case, I am going to attend this meeting to find out exactly what the facts of this proposal are. I urge you to join me also.

The specific details are as follows:

When: Monday, August 15, 2005
Where: Associates for Renewal in Education (ARE)
45 P Street, NW
Time: 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Hope to see you there!


Jim Berry