A “bio-retention area” previously used as a makeshift dog run at Bruce Monroe Community Park in Park View will stay forever closed to sprinting canines, said District Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) officials.
A group of dog owners rallied to regain access to the unused patch of grass after workers locked the gate that led to it last month.
“People have been using that as a place to run their dogs for basically as long as the community garden has been there,” said dog owner and “Save the Bruce Monroe Community Park Dog Run” group organizer Dave Bobeck last month. “It’s been uncontested as far as I know and we want to restore access to that immediately if possible. Failing that, we’d at least like to know what the issues are with the dog run use and have a chance to address those issues.”
In a handout sent to Borderstan by ANC 1A Commissioner Rashida Brown, DPR makes its response clear:
“Foot traffic (by both humans and dogs) degrades the function of bio-retention areas by compacting the layers of soil that serves to absorb storm-water, eventually leading to erosion issues and reduced function of the bio-retention area. Further, dog waste (especially urine that can’t be picked up) is harmful to the required plantings in this type of bio-retention area.”
Furthermore, Brown said in an e-mail to Park View residents that “the padlock and ‘no dogs allowed’ sign on the gate around the bio-retention site must not be removed. Trespassing laws also apply to this area.”
But a permanently locked gate may soon be the least of the dog owners’ worries. A proposal to redevelop the Park Morton housing community could put the Bruce Monroe Community Park itself at risk of being paved over entirely.
Naturally, some Park View residents have already launched a petition to “Save Bruce Monroe Community Park” in response.
Petition-signers will meet with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to discuss the proposal at the Park View Recreation Center (693 Otis Place NW) tomorrow evening at 7 p.m.
Earlier this week, District Parks and Recreation officials locked the gated patch of grass next to the Bruce Monroe Community Garden and attached signs to the gates barring dogs.
Almost immediately after the signs went up, Columbia Heights resident Dave Bobeck started a Facebook page called “Save the Bruce Monroe Community Park Dog Run,” which has already garnered 60 members. The problem, Bobeck said, is that he’s not sure who they’re saving their makeshift dog park from.
“I’m not really sure if there was pressure or where it’s coming from to keep dogs out,” Bobeck said. “Obviously somebody cared enough to send enough emails that they put up the signs, so somebody out there is opposed to this, but we haven’t heard who or why.”
Department of Parks and Recreation spokesman John Stokes told DCist that the area was chained off because it was not a legitimate dog park. In fact, said Stokes, the plot is officially designated as a stormwater management area for the community garden.
Still, Bobeck said he and his neighbors are trying to get the signs removed so their dogs can use the area again. Bobeck said he’d at least like the chance to respond to whatever opposition the makeshift park has run into.
“People having been using that as a place to run their dogs for basically as long as the community garden has been there,” he said. “It’s been uncontested as far as I know and we want to restore access to that immediately if possible. Failing that, we’d at least like to know what the issues are with the dog run use and have a chance to address those issues.”
But a resolution may come soon. ANC 1A Commissioner Rashida Brown told members of the Facebook group that she is working to schedule a meeting next week to bring together dog owners and DPR officials who closed the area. Bobeck said that one member of the Facebook group is working on submitting the applications to DPR for an official dog park, but added that he doesn’t think there is a need to spend money building an official dog park when owners have been happily using this plot for years.
“Some people are talking about development and an official dog park in the future, but if it comes down to public funds going to that or to some better cause, by all means let them go to a better cause,” he said. “Just open that area back it, it won’t cost anybody anything.”
Photo via Facebook/ Save The Bruce Monroe Community Park Dog Run
A bench beloved by many is missing from Bruce Monroe Community Garden (Georgia Ave. at Columbia Rd. and Irving St. NW) and the man who built it is looking for answers.
Garden steering committee member Marc Poe, the man behind the bench, said he first noticed its absence last Saturday. Poe assumes the bench was stolen, but added that taking it would have been no easy feat.
“The cast iron ends of the bench weigh about 30 pounds each,” he said. “I couldn’t move it by myself. I had to assemble it in pieces.”
Poe said the bench, a design collaboration with neighbors, took 10 hours to build, and incorporates materials found at Bruce Monroe.
“In essence, that bench has always been apart of that park,” he said. “I found the metal there, I found the wood there.”
Poe added he hopes that whoever took the bench understands the loss they inflicted.
“You’re stealing from everybody, not just some gardeners,” Poe said. “They ought to know that they’re making it harder for a pregnant lady to rest her feet and for an old person to take a rest after they tend to their garden.”
Information regarding the bench’s whereabouts can be sent to [email protected].
Photo courtesy of Marc Poe