Crestwood Citizens Association
Minutes of Meeting
January 10, 2023
7:00 pm by Zoom and in-person at Grace Lutheran Church
At 7:00 pm, our President, Hala Harik Hayes opened the meeting. She asked the people online to put themselves on mute. This was our first hybrid meeting with some members meeting in person at Grace Lutheran Church and other members participating on Zoom.
Hala thanked Pastor Amy and Mesfin (the Office Administrator) of Grace Lutheran Church for hosting us, and Pastor Amy introduced herself and welcomed us to her church. She said they are working to plan several types of activities and workshops for to serve their Crestwood neighbors.
Hala Introduced members of the Board, Doug Barker, Kathleen Eder, Patricia Kennedy, Michael Earls, Victoria Earls, Carey DeMatteis, Dallas Salisbury, and our ANC Commissioner, Pavan Khoobchandani.
Hala shared the meeting goals, which included a discussion of the proposed playground at the Triangle, CCA updates, ANC4EO6 news and other neighborhood announcements and concerns. She shared the following ground rules for the discussions:
• Wait to be called before speaking and introduce yourself.
• Share your own perspective, remain respectful, listen carefully and non-judgmentally.
• Limit comments to 2 minutes.
• Understand there are a lot of different opinions and that’s OK.
• We want the conversation to be productive and comfortable.
Michael Earls stated that there are a lot of views regarding the future of the Triangle, both among the neighbors and the individuals serving on the CCA Board. Maintaining trust is crucial. He said that the board reflects the diverse views of the neighborhood.
Hala began the discussion of the Triangle saying that there has been a lot of change in Crestwood over the last few years, and we want to take a minute and remember how fortunate we are to live in this community. She asked the participants to find someone they don’t know and take two minutes to introduce themselves and share what they most love about living in Crestwood. Zoom participants could use the chat function to introduce themselves and share how they feel about the neighborhood and living here.
Hala gave a summary of what the CCA Board has done regarding the Triangle:
1. We reached out to DPR and NW Community Church to explore the option of constructing a playground on church property. Pastor Dan talked with DPR; he decided not to pursue the playground.
2. We reached out to DPR to ask DPR if they were making changes to the concept design for Triangle Park, and they replied that, “DPR is working to update the design [of] the park. We have received a wide variety of comments and feedback from the community and are working to integrate those comments into the revised design.”
3. We asked DPR if they would be willing to participate in a meeting held by the CCA in early 2023 after the release of a revised concept design for Triangle Park. DPR shared that they will hold a final community meeting in early 2023 to present the final design and construction timeline. DPR asked CCA to co-host. DPR shared that this meeting will not be to gather new input. The CCA Board has decided not to co-host the meeting with DPR.
4. Hala reiterated the CCA Board’s determination that CCA would not take a position on how the Triangle Park issue should be resolved, saying that members of the community disagree about the issues, and there is no clear agreement. She said CCA would continue to share information and stay on top of the developments.
She then opened the floor for comments from the members. Here is a summary of the remarks:
What will the maintenance situation be? Will the neighborhood be responsible for keeping it cleaned up. Pavan - there are a lot of complaints about DGS maintenance. It is 311 ticket based, so neighbors have to call in requests for anything that needs attention. Pat Kennedy – shared that on a visit to the lot on W Street off Foxhall, she had a conversation with two parents at the lot with their children. The parents said that the maintenance provided by the city was severely lacking, and that they had arranged for some neighborhood teenagers to get their community service credit by taking care of cleaning up after visitors and helping with trash removal.
If there is a reduced budget from a smaller footprint, can some of the savings be applied to maintenance. Pavan’s answer was no, it would not.
He spoke to some of the people at the Adams Morgan playground and noted that the maintenance is not well done. The other three parks looked to be marginally well cared for, which makes it important for neighbors to keep making the 311 tickets as needed.
Trash removal and keeping the ground cover up are the two most important maintenance items. What they are planning with the Triangle won’t need equipment maintenance.
We could ask not to install trash cans. Can the parents who lobbied for this form a committee and handle the maintenance? Carey mentioned the Adopt a Park program where communities get involved with keeping up their parks.
Lived here over 30 years and he raised money for the 16th St Heights playground Friends groups. He said that DPR only creates these lots, and we should make plans for the community to maintain it.
His family has lived here since 1958. What are we trying to target in the child population? Anna Nelson replied, she has been a part of the meet up of parents who are organizing playdates on the parents list serve.
Could we ask that the trash receptacles be added to the trash truck pickups that go by weekly (DPW). Pavan explained that DPW does not pick up trash from DGS/DPR receptacles.
She lives next to Triangle Park. Her house’s personal trash cans get filled during most of the activities that occur there now. There is a very small subset of people who use the park who will use the playground. An attendee asked how many young children live in Crestwood. Dallas Salisbury cited Census Bureau information showing there are 337 children in our Census tract (26 – Crestwood) between ages 0 and 9.
Has been involved with designing “playscapes” for schools and asked about ground cover for the playground surface. Dallas Salisbury explained that they will be using engineered wood fiber (EFW) and wood carpeting (EWF) as loose fill, whereas wood carpeting is bonded fill for better ADA access.
Suggested that NW Community Church still might be able to lease space to the DC Government. Dallas Salisbury shared that Pastor Dan was strongly discouraged from pursuing that by DPR and that they could not point to any examples of DPR leasing private land. He encouraged neighbors to use the playground they have which now includes a swing set, a basketball hoop and court, and climbing structures with slides. Pastor Dan is still exploring using the available land for community activities.
Does anyone know what happened at the Point and why picnic tables were removed? Pavan shared that about 5 years ago there were issues with drugs and other undesirable activities taking place at the Point, and the tables were removed because of that.
NW Community Church is a great resource, but it’s not a substitute for the Triangle.
This appears to be a done deal. Can it be reversed? What can CCA do? Hala - CCA is not taking a position.
She shared that she grew up in Crestwood and loves the Triangle the way it is. Also noted how non-diverse the CCA Board is. A lot of young black people are treated like they are likely criminals. There are so many ways that the children growing up here have used the Park and the other neighborhood assets. Don’t need a tot lot. She said the process that has created the current situation has been a mess, and CCA’s position of not taking a stand is a cop out. Hala - thanked her and acknowledged that she had a point about the lack of diversity on the CCA Board.
There are five general At-Large seats that could be filled on the Board of Directors. On March 15th there will be a call for nominations. He strongly encouraged Brianna and others to consider upping their participation in the Association and running for some of the Board and officer vacancies that will need to be filled. Hala shared that the CCA Board will hold a Board Interest meeting on February 28th for neighbors interested in learning more about running for a CCA Board position.
Two things -
Comments Brianna just made - she doesn’t think more people of color on the Board would make that much difference. It’s what’s in people’s hearts.
She participated in the surveys - what is the common force that is driving the lot. Children traditionally meet at each other’s homes and back yards. Used to be two neighborhood associations, one mostly black (the Rock Creek East Neighborhood League) and one mostly white (CCA). There is an underlying element of push pull based on age and color.
There are old timers and new comers and we don’t often form relationships, and that is why he thinks the playground is the right idea as a gathering place for neighbors.
She’s been in the neighborhood for 27 years, raised a child taking advantage of everything in Crestwood, and her son is an African American Male. She talked about limitations to the way we communicate. She raised her son in their yard and in Rock Creek Park. She does not believe the park should be changed.
Powerful comments should have been heard months ago. But money has been allocated and DPR thinks they have to spend it. So DPR is moving forward, and how we got here is a very unfortunate. How could the Board not have taken a position against it? This has created issues in Crestwood. It’s creating a big division in Crestwood. It’s not good. It doesn’t have to happen – like if the Mayor says no it won’t happen.
Has lived here since 1992 and chose it because it is a quiet community, a little suburban. People are pushing issues without taking all of us into account. You pick your neighborhood, house, the yard and the space for your family. If it turns out not to work for you, don’t interfere with the rest of the neighbors it does work for.
The money has been allocated. How did this happen? How can it be stopped?
Presented a timeline of the process. This timeline is presented in a chart that is included at the end of the minutes.
Isn’t sure that once the money is allocated it has to be spent. He rejects that.
DPR tried to solicit input from the community. I feel comfortable with the amount of engagement that has been done with the community.
Chronology shows it was instigated by a small group of people.
A small number of people got together with an idea, and they made it happen. He said he sees nothing wrong with that.
Some of Brianna’s comments may have been overshadowed. Lanisa shared her participating in the George Floyd memorial at the Triangle.
Then she volunteered to serve on the Board. The Board’s legacy would not have accepted someone who looks like her on the Board. And she said that by not taking a position on the Triangle, the CCA and its Board is, in fact, supporting the changes at the Triangle. We need to think of maintenance. As for the billboard that someone suggested, the least amount of structure on that space is preferable. During the pandemic when the other playgrounds were closed down, the Park was a place where small children could play.
Hala presented some CCA updates:
The Green Team is planning several upcoming events, including a seed swap, plant swap, garden tour, and they are launching a native [plant initiative. Anna Nelson shared information about the initiative and how neighbors can participate.
Aging in Place continues to organize. Hala shared details about the postcard that Dallas sponsored that was sent to 700-plus Crestwood mailing addresses. So far, he’s only had one response.
• February 28: Board Interest Meeting (come to learn more about running for a CCA Board position).
• March 14: CCA Meeting
• April 8: Easter Egg Hunt
• May 16: CCA Annual Meeting
Past Events & Thanks: Hala acknowledged members who helped with recent events:
• October Halloween Parade – thank you Caitlin Clark
• November Turkey Trot: thanks to the 250 neighbors who joined us for the Turkey Trot. We raised $4000 for the Carter Barron Alliance (a project of the Rock Creek Conservancy).
• December Holiday Party: thanks to Mariann and Paul Budde for hosting
• December Christmas Eve Caroling: thanks to Jen, Mike and the Dabbs Family, Tom, Judith, and Nick Chused, and Susan Plaeger and Chuck O’Connor for organizing it.
ANC 4E04 Update: Pavan summarized some changes in the ANC boundaries and invited us to sign onto the Zoom meetings of the ANC.
• Donna Washington shared information about the Ward 4 Mutual Aid Unhoused Initiative, for which she and her adult child, Sam are volunteers. For more information, go to https://ward4mutualaid.org/unhoused-neighbor-support/
• Reminder that there is a ban on gas powered leaf blowers.
• DC Water is hosting a public scoping meeting Wednesday, January 18th at 7:30PM regarding the proposed construction of the Piney Branch Combined Sewer Overflow (SCO) 049 Storage Project within Rock Creek Park. A proposed 4.2-million-gallon underground storage tunnel just south of Crestwood is being considered.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 9:10 pm.
Link to the meeting presentation slide deck
Link to timeline shared during meeting
Link to Zoom chat transcript