Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd and his staff made a visit to the Petworth Park (801 Taylor St NW) and Petworth Recreation Center this afternoon, along with John Stokes, the chief of staff for the Department of Parks and Recreation (who also lives in the Petworth area).
CM Todd was there to meet with local area parents to hear about concerns and requests for improvements at the park, as well as meeting with Recreation Center staff Clarence Anderson and Karla Kelley. The group walked through the park and talked about several topics, so I'll give highlights from the conversation.
As background, the park was renovated -- almost completely redone -- back in 2007 under then Mayor Adrian Fenty (who had previously been the Ward 4 councilmember), and a "hill" was removed where the playground now exists (making both kids and police happy, as it opened up the park). The playground equipment was paid for through private donations that the community spearheaded. The Recreation Center building features a computer lab, a kitchen / dining area, a large meeting room (with TV) and an office for the DPR staff. The building is staffed Monday through Friday, 12:30 - 9pm, and 10-4 on weekends.
The need for fixes to the playground surface was brought up, as there are now several holes just made for little feet to trip on (at least it's a soft surface), as well as some missing screws from the playground equipment. One of the parents requested a swing be put into the park (my daughter would be thrilled). Two parents brought up the need for some type of shade structure in the playground and spray park -- it can be brutal to be out in the sun for extended periods of time while the little ones play. (I heard one estimate of near $10K for a shade structure, which seems insanely expensive.)
Another parent mentioned his concern about adolescents and young men smoking pot in the park after school, and another parent asked about a police presence to help dissuade people from using the park as a place to smoke (while it's legal now, it's still illegal to smoke pot in public). CM Todd talked about getting some of DPR's "Roving Leaders" to come by the park as well to help work with adolescents. One parent asked about closing off the spray park maintenance area (especially after this summer's incident with the open bottle of muriatic acid left out in the spray park) and DPR agreed that was good idea. (Chief of Staff John Stokes took a lot of notes on his phone.)
CM Todd also toured the Rec Center building and listened to DPR staff talk about their needs for improvements (including issues with the Department of General Services erroneously closing out maintenance tickets), and fixes to the kitchen and other public spaces.
CM Todd promised to follow-up on the requests and concerns raised by both staff and parents and work with the applicable city agencies to help resolve some of the concerns.