By Kael Anderson

March was a busy month of planning focused around Southwest’s parks and recreation facilities.  Fortunately, we have significant progress to report.

First, Randall Recreation Center.  Two projects will help activate this relatively forlorn area of Southwest, increasing safety.  With the help of Ron McBee, DC Revitalizing Baseball in Inner Cities is now using the fields and adjacent Friendship Baptist Church site.  Colloquially known as DC RBI, this is a baseball and mentoring program for children.  The church site will host a pitching and batting area.  In the remainder of the church site, Washington Parks and People is installing an innovative urban garden.  Kidpower, a mentoring organization operating out of Amidon-Bowen Elementary is developing a program for students focused on planned vegetable gardens.

The DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has committed to activating other facilities at Randall, particularly the multi-purpose building that have been closed off to the community.  Currently the building is leased to an outside outfit for day care by the DC Department of General Services (DGS).   Approximately half of the building sits unused.  We’re exploring whether the community can use this idle space, even if just for storage.

Lansburgh Park is also slated for more use.  DPR agreed to hold its Easter/Spring Event at Lansburgh, scheduled for March 31 from 10 am – 2 pm.   The event will include an assortment of activities including gospel fitness, a music stage, roller skating, food and refreshments, poetry contest, and line dancing. We’ll be working with DPR to roll-out subsequent events at Lansburgh including National Night Out and SW Unity Day.  To get involved in future planning efforts for Lansburgh Park, see the related announcement of the April 28th open house.

Over at King-Greenleaf Recreation Center (K-G), Ron McBee and I have been working with DPR to complete long-deferred maintenance and selected improvements.  See the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly’s testimony at DPR’s oversight hearing held by Councilmember Tommy Wells, which can be accessed at www.swdc.org.  Part of the challenge is that the District recently transferred direct responsibility of DPR facilities (including capital improvements, maintenance, and daily cleaning) to the newly-established DC Department of General Services (DGS). For various reasons, DGS has been unable to manage DPR facility needs.  Fortunately DPR has been a helpful liaison.

Among the list of newly-completed items at K-G: exterior lights that improve security at the building’s rear, new pole lamps, a newly-operable front door, repaired tennis courts, replacement of a bullet-riddled window, permanently patched peep-holes between the bathrooms, additional trash containers and new exterior signage.  DPR (via DGS) has also committed to additional items, including a new room divider to allow for dual uses in the multipurpose room, replacement flooring in the basketball arena, repairs to the bleachers so they’re once again retractable, and a new surveillance system.

We’ve also been making progress on the programming front at K-G.  On March 10th, I chaired a meeting with Ward 6 Manager Clynthia Graham and Tonya Plater-McBride attended by over a dozen service providers and stakeholders.  In the meeting, DPR staff unveiled their programming plans and we discussed how community members can get involved, offering programming and services. The current and planned programming is generally as follows:

  • Current (until summer camps): Young Ladies on the Rise, Young Men Striving for Success, College Prep + Readiness, Afterschool Access, and various senior activities through DPR’s Senior Division
  • Summer: Summer is oriented around free recreation camps.  The week-long camps run from June 18 – August 17.
  • Fall: Afterschool Program, Family Game Night, Creative Expression, Young Ladies on the Rise, Young Men Striving for Success, SAT and College Prep, Rec Tech Club, Senior Rec Tech Program, Storytelling and Book Club, and various fitness & sports programs

Program descriptions and details are available at K-G Recreation Center.

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