DPR makes changes to splash parks and kids' pool due to activism from Petworth community

Kids playing at the splash park at Petworth Rec Center (photo: Phillip Ford / Petworth News)

A couple of weeks ago I received a tweet that the kids' pool at the Upshur Pool was closed, much to the consternation of parents. Then again, this weekend, the kids' pool was still closed due to a lack of lifeguards. Then on Saturday, at 7pm during the Petworth Jazz Project, the spray park at Petworth Recreation Center suddenly turned off. It's hot, and kids want a way to keep cool, and parents want a way to occupy their children during the heat of the day.

So in both cases, I sent a tweet to the Department of Parks and Recreation asking for an update, and urging them to get staff for the kids' pool and to keep the spray parks open later in the evening. Considering the spray parks only operate when a touch-sensitive pad is activated, the later hours don't cost more money to just keep turned on. And if they're on and running water, it's because they're being used.

Councilmembers Brandon Todd and Anita Bonds both responded to the tweets, and Jasmin Benab from the Mayor's office followed up as well. ANC 4C Chair Zach Teutsch likewise tweeted about the spray parks and reached out to DPR administration officials to inquire.

I then posted a photo of an empty kids' pool on Facebook, and the community responded strongly in favor of keeping it open and available. CM Todd commented several times on the Petworth News Facebook page regarding both the Upshur pool and the one in Takoma, responding to residents comments on the post.

Seems that community activism paid off, as DPR has announced that the spray parks in DC will now be open from 9:30am until 8:30pm every day, starting Friday, June 30th. And, DPR Director Keith Anderson has committed to getting the staffing issues immediately resolved to ensure adequate staff are on-hand to act as lifeguards for the kids' pool.

This is why it matters to speak up, no matter if you have 15 Twitter followers or a few thousand, if you're a blogger, an ANC commissioner or a parent whose one year old can't safely be in an adult pool.

ANC Commissioner Zach Teutsch wrote a follow-up on Greater Greater Washington as well, saying, "This is a smart change since it’s low-cost and high benefit. It’s great to see DPR responding to community input and making changes to help keep kids cool during the summer heat."

The Washington Post also cross-posted this in their All Opinions Are Local section.