Support is growing for the city to start upgrading Stead Park’s field in fiscal year 2014 instead of 2015, as now proposed.
In the past week, area residents submitted more than six pages of comments to the DC Council Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs, which met Monday. Many expressed urgency for the $1.6 million project — especially for area children. One neighborhood dad wrote:
“The Stead playground has been getting increasingly crowded over the last year. So much so that many toddlers spend their time as wall flowers, afraid to be trampled by parents or bigger kids… My 1.5 year old already does his best to escape from me and play in traffic. Please accelerate the timeline by a year so we can give him a green and safe place to play, before we (and our tax payments) have to move out to the suburbs in search of green space.”
He and other residents say that a safer and more multipurpose field is necessary as soon as possible so that children can safely use the field and relieve the congestion at the popular playground, which was last renovated in 2007.
At a DC Council hearing Monday, a neighborhood mom Kari Cunningham testified, “As a daily user of the crowded playground with my daughter, I have met many families from Columbia Heights, U Street, Mount Pleasant, and Adams Morgan — in addition to Logan Circle and Shaw — who all travel to use Stead Park’s wonderful playground,” but wish the large field was more community-friendly so older kids could have the option of playing and running there, especially when the playground is too full.
Stead’s one-acre field “is a rare expanse of green space in our developed, built-up part of the city… the whole community would love to have usable options in the field that they do not have today,” Cunningham told Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), chair of the Committee on Workforce and Community Affairs.
Martin Espinoza, founder of Stonewall Kickball, also testified and said that, “With renovations we could envision so many more groups playing within the space. Especially more youth sports, since the space is not safe or inviting for these groups to use during or after school.”
ANC 2B-04 Commissioner Kishan Putta, who organized the testimonies for Friends of Stead Park, said that after their testimony, Barry then said, “I am supportive, I just have to find a way to move the money from 2015 to 2014.”
The Friends of Stead Park are advocating that the funding be split over two years while the project moves in phases, with the goal of not interfering with regular warm weather sports uses.
The project is time-sensitive, other residents said in written comments, because there has been a “baby boom” in the area and many young families will soon be forced to consider moving away if there is not enough space for their children to play.
“We are not asking for a suburb-style square mile of fields and facilities,” one mother wrote, “but all little kids deserve to have some good neighborhood options for them. And if the only nearby option is always packed and the only acre of green space is not community-friendly, then, for our children’s sake, we may have to consider (gulp) leaving the neighborhood we love so dearly.”
The field is full of holes and has no seating or shade and doesn’t drain rain well, she wrote, but the new plans “would address the needs of the community and make productive a space that has been decidedly unproductive for too long.”
Putta said that more written comments are coming in daily. He said that the multipurpose field proposal is very popular because it would include a jogging/walking track around the perimeter, “for those who hate dodging traffic and lights on their jogs,” shade-giving trees and benches, puddle-proof turf (meaning fewer game cancellations), a splash park and a stage/pavilion for films and concerts.
“These plans are not overly costly,” he said, “however they will provide incalculable benefits to the growing community. Families are growing frustrated with the lack of space and options for them. They came to our public meetings, they have submitted comments for your consideration, and they are paying attention. Beginning the project this year will give them confidence that their children will have adequate space and opportunities within the next year or two and faith that the city wants to support their families and keep them here.”
The renovation of the park continues gathering support as Putta received an email from Councilmenber Jim Graham saying, “I will do what I can.” Jesus Aguirre, the director of Dept of Parks and Recreation said on the Kojo Nnamdi Show after a caller asked about Stead Park: “We’re looking at creative ways to try to accelerate that implementation,” and “we are working with a very active Friends group and community.”
The budget gets finalized later this month and supporters are asking the community to email their requests to their Councilmembers — and/or to [email protected] to be forwarded on (please include your approximate address and why you feel the field upgrades should begin this year).
There are 21 Single Member District (SMD) seats up for grabs on the November 6 ballot in three different local ANCs: 2B/Dupont, 2F/Logan and 1B, which includes most of the U Street corridor. Recently we introduced you to the candidates, including Martin Espinoza (see Know the Candidates in Contested ANC Races). Espinoza will face Stephanie Sheridan and Kishan Putta on election day.
Now, it’s Question and Answer Time on the issues.
Borderstan: What will be your first priority/new initiative if you are elected to ANC 2B and why?
Espinoza: Initiative, “All Things Digital” by creating a central one stop shop for neighbors to communicate to one another and find out news & events in Dupont, this would also include any downloadable applications or resources like the DC311 application.
Borderstan: How will you engage your constituents on issues so that your decisions reflect that of the majority of your Single Member District?
Espinoza: Using the “All things digital” approach, I would be very transparent in always posting issues that are being addressed across all digital platforms allowing neighbors to comment and provide their feedback on their own time.
Borderstan: How will you work to help bring process and transparency to decisions that impact the Dupont neighborhood, such as the renovations for Stead Park, so that the diversity of the community as a whole is reflected?
Espinoza: Read answer #2. But really, it’s about sharing everything you know at any given time, even if it is small bits. People appreciate knowing the same level of information you have and that makes everyone a part of the process.
Borderstan: What value do you think neighborhood associations provide, and how do you plan to interact with them?
Espinoza: Associations provide great value to the community by bringing people together through community events and meetings. I’ve been involved and will continue to be involved in all associations providing the same transparent information available.
Borderstan: The East Dupont Liquor License Moratorium, which affects 17th Street NW, comes up for renewal in 2013, and ANC 2B will have an opportunity to weigh in by offering an advisory opinion to the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board on its renewal. Do you support renewing the moratorium? If so, why? If not, why?
Espinoza: Three years ago when the moratorium was up, the Commission was unanimous in its continuation due to the anticipated disruption caused to restaurants by the renovation of 17th Street. However, the Commission relaxed the moratorium to allow for an additional license and two lateral expansions (which ultimately became three lateral expansions). The general consensus among commissioners was that the moratorium would not be renewed again. 17th Street still has a liquor license for the former Chaos space that has not been used in three years. It appears that an equilibrium has been reached which negates the need for extending the moratorium, which is meant to be temporary.
Borderstan: Do you believe the voluntary agreement process for liquor license applicants needs to be changed? If so, how?
Espinoza: The voluntary agreement process could be improved to provide consistency across all agreements creating a fair environment to all businesses and residents.
Borderstan: Do you believe that the police presence, particularly on the 17th Street, 18th Street and Connecticut Avenue corridors, is adequate, especially on weekends?
Espinoza: Law enforcement should be a neighborhood priority, but effective crime fighting begins with vigilant and active residents. We all want to feel safe and we do most of the time, but when a crime is reported in our own neighborhood we recognize there is always room for improvement. That starts with knowing our neighbors and depending on them to look out for one another.
Borderstan: Are there types of business in the neighborhood that stand out as something we need more of in the area? If so, can you name three?
- Cafe/lounge settings to work in or outside providing wi-fi to customers.
- Deli’s: We need more neighborhood grab and go deli shops.
- Redbox: We don’t have one but we should!
A meeting on the recently proposed design changes to Stead Park will take place on Wednesday, October 3 at 7 pm at the DC Jewish Community Center (16th and Q Streets NW). The Stead Park Recreation Center and field are a 1.5-acre facility located at 1625 P Street NW.
The topic on Stead Park’s design has been a source of controversy with community members.
For the past nine months, Friends of Stead Park, an organization that works with a private trust and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation to run the park, worked to upgrade the field at Stead Park. According to Jeff Garigliano, treasurer of Friends of Stead Park, the space is in need of some “desperate love.”
“The grass is patchy at best and the fence (16-feet high, falling over in spots) cuts the field off from the rest of the park,” said Garigliano in a guest post for Borderstan. “The site looks like a minimum security prison. Because of these factors, it usually sits empty on weekdays. Adult sports leagues use the field many weeknights and weekends, but there’s not much there for anyone else — no shade, no place to sit.”
However, not all members of the community are as open to the change. Martin Espinoza, co-founder of Stonewall Sports and ANC 2B-04 candidate, started a petition in light of the proposed re-design changes, called “Save Stead Park.” According to Espinoza’s petition, the proposed plans will reduce the active field space at Stead Park by 25 percent, which could jeopardize current community leagues such as soccer, volleyball and kickball.
According to Garigliano, Friends of Stead Park spent several months reaching out to neighborhood groups (parent listservs, the PTA organizations at Ross and Garrison, day care centers, 17th Street NW businesses and leaders of the sports leagues) to gauge the wants and needs of local residents for the space.
Wednesday night’s meeting is a chance for community members to come and see the result of the integrated plan, and for residents to add further suggestions.
And for those who can’t make it to the meeting, Garigliano openly invites questions and comments. He can be reached at jeff.garigliano[AT]gmail.com.
Featured image: “2012 Fall Kickball opening” is from tedeytan in the Borderstan Flickr pool and was taken at Stead Park.
The co-founder of Stonewall Sports, Martin Espinoza, started a petition last week, “Save Stead Park,” to protest a reduction in field space at Dupont Circle’s Stead Park (1625 P Street NW).
According to Espinoza’s petition, plans are being proposed to reduce the active field space at Stead Park by 25 percent, which would jeopardize current community leagues such as soccer, volleyball and kickball, while also keeping local schools from using the fields. The petition is to the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.
“DC already has a limited number of green space available for children and adults to play on, so reducing this unique gem in Dupont Circle would impact the health and wellness of residents who use the park daily,” says Espinoza in his petition. (He is also an ANC 2B-04 candidate, running against Kishan Putta and Stephanie Sheridan.)
According to one source familiar with the proposal, part of the space would used to create a track for running and walking — under one option being proposed.
The reduction in field space comes from a plan drafted by Friends of Stead that would allocate $400,000 to the park’s renovations. According to Espinoza, members of Friends of Stead will be present options for the renovation to the Department of Parks and Recreation. These options reduce the active green space, and, according to Espinoza, cost much more than $400,000 to complete.
On the petition one supporter writes, “The health of ourselves and our children is essential. We need green space to use for outdoor activities. I play kickball and through the experience I have made many friends.”
Another supporter states, “There is no need or reason to reduce the active field space at Stead Park. As the surrounding area continue to grow with new condo and rental buildings, there is an even greater need for residents to have an open space for activities and a sense of community.”
The petition, which already has more than 450 supporters, will be hand-delivered by Espinoza at a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, October 3 ,at 7 pm at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center (1529 16th Street NW).
According to the meeting’s webpage, the October 3 meeting (called the Stead Park Field Re-Design Meeting) will be an opportunity for the public to review and comment upon a plan to re-design the park. More information is available on the DC Jewish Community Center’s website.
Dupont resident Kishan Putta has announced his candidacy for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) in the District 04 seat in ANC 2B/Dupont. Elections for ANC positions are on the November 6 ballot and are non-partisan; 300 seats throughout the city are up for reelection this year.
Putta’s campaign, however, does not come without competition. Last month Martin Espinoza officially announced his candidacy for the same seat. Jack Jacobson, the ANC 2B-04 incumbent, is running for DC School Board in Ward 2 instead of seeking another term.
Putta and volunteers were spotted in the district last weekend gathering petitions to get on the ballot — with a handout card, flyer and even a cookie with Putta’s name on it. This seems to be shaping up as a spirited race between Putta and Espinoza.
Similar to Espinoza, Putta’s efforts as a commissioner would be grounded in neighborhood safety. Putta is a currently a Public Safety Liaison for ANC 2B, and a former crime and government reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the Providence Journal.
“My public safety journalism experience helps me to appreciate and work well with the diversity of residents, advocates and officials in our community to make the neighborhood safer, but also to keep it welcoming,” Putta told Borderstan.
In addition to crime and general neighborhood safety, Putta is also campaigning on safer streets and sidewalks and local economic development.
District 04 is the most densely populated, and smallest in geographic area, of ANC 2B’s nine districts. By law, each ANC district is to have approximately 2,000 residents. The southern boundary is Q Street, running north to S Street NW, and from 15th Street to 17th Street NW.
Dupont resident Martin Espinoza officially announced his plans in running for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) in the District 04 seat in 2B/Dupont. According to a statement from Espinoza, he would make the neighborhood’s public safety a priority, and focus on the importance of vigilant and active residents, as well as community involvement and aesthetic restoration.
Jack Jacobson, the ANC 2B04 incumbent, is currently running for DC School Board in Ward 2. He was elected to the seat in a 2007 special election before winning a pair of two-years terms. Espinoza sits on the Board of Directors for The DC Center and is co-founder of DC Stonewall Sports and DC Stonewall Kickball.
District 04 is the most densely populated, and smallest in geographic area, of ANC 2B‘s nine districts. By law, each ANC district is to have approximately 2,000 residents. The southern boundary is Q Street, running north to S Street NW, and from 15th Street to 17th Street NW.
Both school board and ANC seats are non-partisan, without primaries. The general election is November 6.