A small group of people who live near Meridian Hill Park have banded together to speak out against a plan to put a bike-sharing hub near their homes.
About seven neighbors showed up to last night’s ANC 1B meeting on U Street to make their voices heard regarding a DDOT plan to install a new Capital Bikeshare station at 15th and W streets NW.
Over the past few weeks, the neighbors have debated with local leaders and DDOT officials over whether a new Bikeshare station should be installed at the southeast corner of the intersection.
Some locals, like Steve Fotiu, say installing the station there would be too noisy and could create safety problems for cyclists traveling through the area.
“This is a very dangerous intersection,” Fotiu warned, “and they’re going to ride right off of a sidewalk into the street to get to the bike lane on 15th.”
The station could also lower home values in the area and help set a precedent for more Bikeshare stations in other residential zones throughout the District, he added.
“If I was to go to DDOT… to put a hot dog stand at this location, DDOT would reject that request on an inappropriateness for this location.”
Fotiu continued: “If we had a referendum of homeowners in the city [asking] if you want a Bikeshare directly in front of your single-family home, I believe majority would say, no thank you.”
Not everyone at the meeting agreed with that assessment, however. Alex Lopez, who lives on the 1300 block of Belmont St. NW, said the neighborhood could use another Bikeshare station.
“There is a serious issue in our neighborhood of bike availability,” Lopez said. “In the morning, there are no bikes, and in the evening there are no stations to park your bike.”
Commissioner LaKisha Brown, who represents that part of the neighborhood, said she sympathizes with some of the neighbors’ concerns.
“I did agree with Steve that I personally wouldn’t want a Bikeshare in front of my home,” she said.
But Brown stopped short of saying she’d ask the city agency to reconsider its plans. Though DDOT was willing to look at several other potential locations for the stations, she said, the most “ideal” alternative spot was in front of the nearby St. Augustine Church.
“It’s a tough decision,” Brown said. “But the other alternative was to remove three parking spaces in front of a church… and I really didn’t want to do that.”
Ultimately, the ANC backed DDOT’s proposal by a vote of 5-1-1, “with the stipulations that DDOT install an angled docking station and reduce the size of the docking station to no more than 37 feet, which is the size of the existing planter.”
Meridian Hill Park’s Joan of Arc is armed once again. Technically, anyway.
Someone slipped what looks to be a foam sword into the statue’s hand sometime over the weekend. The sword, which has a slightly rounded edge and a yellow handle with a green guard, is considerably shorter and flimsier than the cast iron weapon vandals broke off and stole last Tuesday.
But at least it’s something?
— sharrowsDC (@sharrowsDC) September 25, 2016
The sword’s disappearance — which we were first to report last week — has kicked off plenty of speculation. Who took the sword? How did they remove it? Why did they take it?
Neither the National Park Service or the U.S. Park Police know exactly what happened, but both are actively investigating the crime.
The last time someone disarmed Joan of Arc, also known as Jeanne d’Arc, was in 1978, according to local history blog Ghosts of DC. The statue finally got its sword back in 2011.
Meridian Hill Park’s Joan of Arc is missing her sword.
The statue of the French heroine has been without a weapon since at least last night. A Borderstan editor photographed the sword-less Joan of Arc this morning.
The weapon normally is in her right hand as she sits atop a horse, ready for battle from her perch overlooking the park’s cascading fountain.
But she didn’t lose the weapon in a fight. Vandals apparently yanked the sword from her hand as recently as yesterday.
“It appears that someone vandalized the statue, and we’ve filed a report with U.S. Park Police,” National Park Service spokeswoman Emily Linroth said. “We estimate that it happened within the last 24 hours.”
This isn’t the first time the statue of Joan of Arc, also known as Jeanne d’Arc, has lost her sword.
Someone stole the weapon in 1978, according to local history blog Ghosts of DC. It wasn’t until 2011 when she got a replacement.
The statue, which is a replica of a monument in Cathedral de Notre Dame in Rheims, France, was a gift from France’s women to America’s women. President Warren G. Harding and French ambassador Jean Jules Jusserand in 1922 attended its dedication, which drew thousands of spectators.
Update at 9:54 a.m. on Tuesday: Meridian Hill Park’s fountain is back on. See our original story below:
A popular local park is parched again.
“We turned off the equipment for the weekend until we can finish making a few adjustments to the system,” explained Emily Linroth, public affairs specialist with the National Park Service. “We didn’t want to leave the fountain running unattended over the weekend until we know everything is working 100 percent.”
A contractor working on the fountain earlier this morning said crews turned off the water to fix a problem with the way the fountain is flowing.
“We got to figure out where the water is going before we can turn it on,” said the contractor, who didn’t want to share his name with a Borderstan reporter. The contractor added that the water was shut off to protect the fountain’s one-of-a-kind pump motor, which took months to fix and replace earlier this year.
The fountain will be turned on later today if all goes well, the contractor said.
Better late than never?
Water began flowing down the multi-tiered waterways at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park some time before noon today. A reader tipped us off to the news earlier this afternoon.
The cascading fountain — purportedly the longest in North America — was turned off while crews worked to repair a special pump motor, according to National Park Service officials. Though the work was originally scheduled to be completed in June or July, complications with repairing the one-of-a-kind piece of equipment pushed that date farther and farther back throughout the summer.
But now water is flowing from the fountains, and not a moment too soon: Capital Weather Gang predicts this weekend will be one of the summer’s hottest.
(Updated at 8:32 a.m. Friday with additional details about the crime. Though a police report originally said the man was simply robbed, authorities today said the man was sexually assaulted during the incident.)
Two men armed with a knife sexually assaulted and robbed a man in Meridian Hill Park this past weekend, police said.
The armed robbery occurred near the park’s entrance at 15th and Chapin streets NW about 2 a.m. Sunday, July 31.
The victim was walking in the area when the two men popped out from behind a parked car, according to authorities.
One of the men then put a knife to the victim’s chest and grabbed his hands. The duo soon after directed the man into some bushes in the park, where one of the men sexually assaulted him and took his iPhone 6 and wallet before fleeing, police said.
Police described the suspects as:
- a black male, approximately 25 years of age, approximately 6’2″, with a medium build and dark complexion, wearing blue jeans and a white tee shirt.
- a black male, approximately 25 years of age, approximately 6’2″, with a medium build and dark complexion, wearing jeans and a black sweatshirt.
Photo via Google Maps
Water could flow from Dupont Circle’s historic fountain later today after nearly a month of inactivity.
That’s the latest news from Mike Litterst, a public affairs officer with the National Park Service. Litterst said that crews could finish repairing the fountain and switch it on by the end of the day today.
“The contractors who are making the repairs to the fountain found some additional leaks in the piping over the weekend and are working on that today and tomorrow,” Litterst said. “They hope to have the fountain operational by the end of the day on Tuesday.”
Officials turned the fountain off last month to fix a broken motor that was causing it to overflow, Litterst said. The NPS also drained and cleaned the fountain last week in preparation for its second debut of the season.
What about Meridian Hill Park? That fountain too, is on track to be filled soon, said Emily Linroth, public affairs specialist with the NPS. It will likely take workers about two more weeks to repair a broken pump motor in Meridian Hill Park’s cascading waterways, Linroth said.
“We’re anticipating two weeks until it’s installed and running,” Linroth said. “And then it will take us about two days to fill the fountain with water.”
Someone recently painted an apparent reference to Pokemon Go on a sign in Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park.
A vandal spray painted the words “Team Mystic” on an information sign in Meridian Hill Park some time within the past few days. Mystic, also known as the “blue team,” is a faction in Pokemon Go, the popular new smartphone game where of teams of Pokemon trainers battle for control of landmarks and buildings across the U.S.
Redditor “ashplowe” first spotted the graffiti yesterday.
“So this happened in my local park,” ashplowe wrote. “Let’s be better than this.”
Photo by Borderstan reporter Alyse Mier
Borderstan periodically publishes opinion pieces from our readers. Have something you want to share with Borderstan’s readers? Email us at [email protected].
The following is a letter from Ward 4 resident Ben Harris to Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton:
Dear Del. Holmes Norton,
I am writing to raise an issue that has a noticeable impact on every D.C. resident as well as on many of the visitors to our city: the deplorable conditions within much of the parkland in D.C. controlled by the National Park Service. This issue has come up from time to time before, but recent visits to several NPS parks within the city have served as a reminder that this is an issue that demands urgent attention and action.
I want to make clear that what I am referring to here are not the national parks that symbolize D.C. and that many visitors associate with the city: the National Mall, Rock Creek Park, and so forth. Although those parks are certainly rife with issues and problems, they aren’t my focus for purposes of this message. Rather, I am expressing serious concern over the condition of the many “neighborhood parks” which NPS controls but which function more as community parks.
Last evening, I strolled through Malcolm X/Meridian Hill Park. This is a park that should be a crown jewel of the city, however its current conditions are disgraceful. The fountains and cascading waterfall, which are hallmarks of the park, are dry and have not functioned all year. Instead, there are basins filled with beer cans, liquor bottles and other trash, and pools of stagnant water which no doubt serve as fertile breeding ground for mosquitos. There are no signs or any indication of when, if ever, the fountains and water features might be operational. On the upper tier of the park, what little grass that exists is overgrown; meanwhile, what should be a grassy surface is often little more than dust and rocks, the field and sod long in need of rehabilitation. The overall feel of the park is of neglect and disinvestment.
Farther south in Dupont Circle, the fountain there too has been dry for weeks, with no indication of a timeframe for repair. Instead, the fountain’s basin is full of foul, stagnant water that, again, is an ideal mosquito breeding ground. The bushes surrounding the benches around the fountain are often overgrown, and many are dead. Meanwhile, weeds grow through cracks in the pavement while overflowing trash cans contribute to garbage and litter.
My wife and I live in Ward 4, a couple of blocks from Fort Slocum Park. That park is rarely mowed, leading to overgrown grass and knee-high weeds that make it difficult to walk through, much less spend time in. There is frequently garbage and litter around the park, including drug paraphernalia, empty containers of alcohol and condom wrappers. Making the park even more unsuitable for use, two full sides of it lack any sidewalk, forcing park users to walk through the un-mowed, tick-laden grass and weeds. Fort Slocum is surrounded on three sides by houses, many containing families with children, while a school borders it on the north. Nearby residents are being deprived of what could be a wonderful amenity via the ongoing neglect of the park.
There are, I am sure, countless other examples that people elsewhere in the city could point to. The overall point is that NPS is abjectly failing in its responsibilities at maintaining the parkland scattered across our city. I moved to the D.C. area in 2004, and I can say beyond any doubt that the conditions of the city’s NPS-controlled parks are the worst they have ever been since I came here. Compounding this problem is the NPS bureaucracy. It is unclear which individual(s) at NPS District residents should contact about upkeep and maintenance issues in District parks. NPS’s structure is opaque, and the agency does not typically engage via social media channels. As a District resident, I feel powerless to raise issues and concerns with NPS as I do not know whom to contact, and the agency does not engage in community outreach.
I raise all of these issues in the hopes that you will raise these concerns with the appropriate people at NPS and elsewhere, with the hope that an increased degree of focus and attention will result in noticeable and desirable improvements in NPS-controlled parkland in D.C. The citizens of this city should have access to parks that are attractive, inviting and accommodating. Currently, far too many of our parks do not meet these criteria, a tremendous disservice to the city’s residents and a shameful commentary on our inability to maintain our public spaces. We all deserve better service than what NPS is providing.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter.
Harris is a Ward 4 resident who, along with his wife, formerly ran the blog 14th & You.
(Updated Friday at 5:11 p.m. with video of the incident. See above.) A man threatened to shoot a worker at a Columbia Heights restaurant in an attempted robbery yesterday afternoon, police said.
The incident happened in the IHOP on the 1400 block of Irving Street NW about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The would-be thief made his threat with a handwritten note on a takeaway menu he gave to the IHOP employee, police said.
“This is a robbery,” the note said, according to authorities. “Don’t say sh-t, or I will blow your f–king brains out.”
But the man never showed a weapon and ran away after the worker said the cash register was empty.
As hot summer weather approaches, many locals wonder: when will the fountains be turned on?
Now we have an answer, at least for two of the more notable fountains in our neck of the woods. Dupont Circle park’s fountain could come to life as early as next week, while Meridian Hill Park’s waterworks may take a little while longer, according to officials with the National Park Service.
The stabbing occurred after two men got into a fight in the park near the 1500 block of Chapin St. NW around 8:30 p.m. last night, said U.S. Park Police spokeswoman Sgt. Anna Rose.
The stabbing victim was taken to the hospital, Rose said. She did not provide the condition of the victim.
The alleged stabber was identified by witnesses and detained by D.C. Police, then arrested by U.S. Park Police, Rose added, but the agency has not yet released his name.
The violent robbery occurred about 5 a.m. Sunday on the 3000 block of Georgia Avenue NW, which includes Bruce Monroe Community Park.
The driver picked up several men on the 1900 block of 9th Street NW near the U Street corridor after they agreed to pay him $30 up front and $20 after the ride, according to authorities.
Ever Lopez of Northeast D.C. was arrested Thursday and charged with assault with intent to kill in the attack last month.
Heather Shaner, Lopez’s lawyer, declined to comment.
Alert: Shooting at 2220 hrs 1600 Euclid St. NW. No lookout//8063
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) March 6, 2016
(Updated at 10:35 a.m. Sunday) Someone shot a boy near Meridian Hill Park last night, D.C. Police said.
Authorities said the victim, a “juvenile male,” was shot on the 1600 block of Euclid St. NW around 10:21 p.m. The boy was conscious when officers arrived on the scene, they added.
Police did not immediately provide more information about the crime. This story will be updated as more is known.