City Desk

Neighborhood Watch: Were Horseshoers Horsing Around in Congress Heights?

1068361_good_luckThe Issue: What to do with Shepherd Park? The horseshoe pitching club there has moved on to greener pastures after being pressured by the community to remove horseshoe pits from the park between Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Malcolm X Avenue. The horseshoe pits and accompanying chess boards were originally installed by the club with the approval of the National Park Service, which manages the space, but were removed when residents said they were encouraging drunken carousing.

No More Pitching: Some community members think horseshoeing is contributing to the park's problems: The blog Congress Heights on the Rise says, "Despite their [the club's] best efforts, the horseshoe players do not attract children to the park – only adults. And most of those adults are drinking." Additionally, there are already pits set up in nearby Oxon Hill Park where the club could relocate.

Pitching Isn't the Problem: Many argue that public drinking is the real problem: In an informal online poll conducted by Southeast Socialite blog on what Congress Heights residents would like to see on MLK Avenue, 75 percent said what they really wanted was "10 less liquor stores."

Next Step: An advisory neighborhood commissioner, William Ellis, told City Desk: "What to do with the park is a big deal in the neighborhood. It has been the center of drug addicts and shootings in recent years, and the Park Service hasn't made the changes needed." He added that the ANC is reaching out to the community for suggestions on using the space; the park could include a community garden or Martin Luther King Jr. memorial.

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  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    I appreciate this issue making the CP but there are a few misstatements in this article and they need to be corrected. If someone had contacted me about it I would have loved to discuss this.

    1) As the writer of Congress Heights on the Rise I DON'T support the Horseshoe Players in the park. Per MY comment in paragraph two of this article that was attributed to a reader online, " “Despite their [the club's] best efforts, the horseshoe players do not attract children to the park – only adults. And most of those adults are drinking.”

    2) The comment referenced in the third article is also from me from my blog, Congress Heights on the Rise but it is from September 2008. In that article I was hopeful that the initial issues with the Park - namely the drinking could be resolved. But over the past year (and before that post) I too have been in favor of relocating the Horseshoe Players out of the park and I have said so in subsequent posts both on my blog and in response to the Southeast Socialite blog post above (as well as an ANC meeting). I just don't think "Shepherd Park" what we call that park because it has no name isn't an appropriate location for that type of activity. Not because of the game or the players specifically but everything else it attracts including non approved park items such as milkcrates and chairs that are brought into the park and the loitering and yes public drinking.

    3) The following statement is misleading if not outright inaccurate. "In an informal online poll of Congress Heights residents about what to do with the park, 75 percent said what they really wanted was “10 less liquor stores.” That statement is giving the impression that the poll is on my blog - it's not. The poll is on another blog - Southeast Socialite. Also that poll is not about what to do with Shepherd Park. The poll states, "What would you like to see on MLK Ave?". The "Shepherd Park destroyed" was an option (clearly one in jest) in relation to the street not the primary focus of the poll. I am sure if the poll was "What do you want done with Sheperd Park?" that the result would have something to do with the drinking/loitering in the park.

    4) This will come as no suprise by in response to Commissioner Ellis's comment that, "He added that the ANC is reaching out to the community for suggestions on using the space; the park could include a community garden or Martin Luther King Jr. memorial." THAT IS SO HYSTERICAL! The idea of ANC 8C involving the community in anything is an out and out lie. ANC 8C is so notorious for not seeking input or suggestions from the community. We have been told in ANC 8C meetings usually by the "Chair" Mary Cuthbert that "ANC meetings are not for the community they are for the commissioners" , "We don't have to discuss community concerns", "this is not a public meeting", "nothing is going to change with that park", etc.

    ANC 8C reaching out to the community? Now THAT made me laugh!!! LOL.

  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    Here is my post from September 15, 2009 on the Horseshoe Players leaving the park.

    http://www.congressheightsontherise.com/2009/09/can-we-exchange-horseshoes-for.html

  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    What a coincidence! I just realized I wrote about the Horsehoe Players in the park on the same day - September 15th in 2008 and 2009. Wow - that was not intentional lol.

  • Dana Liebelson

    Thank you for your comments. I have incorporated your suggestions and hopefully attributed the correct quotations to you. The date coincidence is precisely the reason I quoted you for a year earlier.

  • http://www.congressheightsontherise.com The Advoc8te

    Hi Dana. Thanks! Now that I see the dates I can see how that could have happened. Thanks for fixing it and thanks for writing the article! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joellawson Joel Lawson

    This is just another example of, across far opposite points on the District map, National Park Service turf where you will rarely see a Park Police presence. From Dupont Circle to Shepherd Park, we have the National Park Service doing obligatory management and care, at best, with very rare and infrequent sightings of the police force with jurisdiction and responsibility.

    While the city's own parks improved dramatically recently--thanks to Clark Ray--the federal stewardship of their parks has declined (and was never very good to begin with).

    The problems in Shepherd Park would never be tolerated by the NPS and Park Police if they happened next to the Jefferson Memorial. Dupont Circle's litter, historic-trees-as-bathrooms, and rampant drug dealing would not be tolerated at the foot of the Lincoln. Why do the District's neighborhoods deserve to be treated by the NPS and Park Police as the runts of their rosters?

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