Advocacy Update

WMATA Negotiating with the District

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WMATA is now pulling the 11th and Park Road property off the market and is giving the city an opportunity to buy it. 

In a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser dated May 21, 2019, WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld said WMATA will send a draft purchase agreement to the city by May 31. 

We are cautiously optimistic that the sale will go through, and the District will be able to save this highly valued park, in a neighborhood that is already lacking in community green space. The whole process would still take months. 

We'll be in touch with updates and next steps. For now, you can thank Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and Mayor Muriel Bowser for their work and attention to this issue. And thank you for helping to make this happen through your emails, petition signatures and more. 

We are Losing the Park

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As you all know, WMATA, which owns the land at 1100 Park Rd NW, officially put the property up for sale this winter and bids were due in February. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau worked to get $1.5 million in the budget to purchase the property but WMATA rejected it. The Mayor offered additiona money, but WMATA rejected it again. Now, we have heard that WMATA has now accepted a bid from a developer that, so far as we know, is not planning to put a dog park of any size on the property.

The timeline is unclear, but we know we now need to find a new spot for our park. We need the support of our Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and our Council members. We must let them know how important having a dog park is to us.

To find out the two things you can do now to help get a new spot for the dog park, go check out our take action page.

Bids Are In! Here's What We Know So Far

Bids to purchase the dog park property were due on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 and WMATA is now reviewing them. Among the bids are two that could save the park.

First, one bid is from the District, which has promised to preserve the entire park. This bid meets WMATA’s requirement to sell the land for its fair market value—indeed, WMATA itself set $2.1 million as the fair market value—and would meet the community’s need for a full-sized dog park. We have urged WMATA to choose this bid, and if it does, we will move forward in improving our park.

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A second bid, by Outlier Capital Realty, includes a plan to build housing as well as a community dog park of about 4,000 square feet in size. The design would provide housing, retail and an important community green space: a public dog park. Outlier's design calls for a concrete podium 15 feet above the ground, with most of the park underneath that podium. We asked WMATA to select the Outlier bid if they reject the District’s bid so that we can ensure we will have a dog park on the property.

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Of course, WMATA might also accept another bid entirely.

You, like us, probably have a lot of questions about what the Outlier plan’s dog park would look like if their bid is accepted. While their plan is at its beginning stages, here are the answers we have so far:

  • Would the dog park be for residents who live in the community or just people who live in the building? The dog park would be a community dog park open to the public.

  • Would there be running water and trash cans (for dog poop)? Yes. Outlier has promised to work with us to create the amenities in the park that we want.

  • Who would maintain the park? Outlier would maintain ownership, but they'd like to have a partnership with 11th and Bark, the District, or both. With the current District dog parks, neighborhood groups are tasked with some of the maintenance of those parks, so it wouldn't be unusual for the nonprofit to take on some maintenance. 

  • How does it work to have a dog park under a building? It could be the first of its kind. But Outlier recognizes that the area will need lighting and ventilation. Also, at least a section of the park would be open to the sky.

  • What would the surface be? We don’t know yet. If they win the bid, they promised they will work with us to figure out what surface works best.

Outlier has offered to spend some time at the park, answering questions about the design. Please email us and let us know if you would be interested in that.

What can you do? Contact WMATA. Ask that it select the District's bid, and if not, to at least select the bid that saves most of this valued community space. 

Email WMATA:  realestate@wmata.com Nina Albert, director of the Office of Real Estate & Station Planning

Tweet at WMATA: @wmata

There's a for sale sign at the dog park, but we can still save it.

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As you likely know, the Columbia Heights Dog Park sits on property owned by WMATA, which has allowed us to use the space for our dog park since 2009. In the last few years, WMATA has shown interest in selling the property. Knowing this, the community urged the District of Columbia Council to purchase the land. More than 1,500 District residents (both those with and without dogs) signed a petition, local businesses submitted letters, and our ANC representatives passed a resolution in favor of saving such green spaces in our neighborhood. The Council heard us and allocated money in the FY2019 budget to buy the land.

Now, WMATA has officially listed the property for sale and is accepting bids, which are due the end of February. That is why the for sale sign suddenly appeared in the park.

The District did make an offer to buy the land, but WMATA rejected it. The fight to save the park, however, isn't over. We now need Mayor Bowser to make a fair market value offer on the property.

On Wednesday, January 9, ANC1A adopted a resolution, introduced by Commissioner Angelica Castañon (1A06), to show support for the mayor making a fair market value offer.

Now it’s your turn. Please take a moment to ask the mayor to make this offer.

We Did It! The Council Allocated Funds to Save the Park

Thanks to the overwhelming support for the dog park, the Council has allocated funds to save it. The FY2019 budget includes $1.5 million to purchase the Columbia Heights Dog Park from WMATA. The Council's final vote on the budget was May 29, 2018. The budget is now on the mayor's desk, awaiting her signature.

Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau supported our efforts to obtain funding for the park. 

Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau supported our efforts to obtain funding for the park. 

Members of the Council deserve our thanks. You can send them an email to thank them here

Next, the District and WMATA will have to negotiate the sale of the property, and dog park supporters need to start raising money to share the costs of improving the park. You can donate to our efforts to improve the park here

 

 

Our Efforts to Save the Park Made the Washington Post

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On May 14, The Washington Post highlighted our efforts to save the dog park on the front page of the Metro section. Dog park regular Kaitlyn Love explained to the Post that she is concerned the DC Council will fail to allocate funds to buy that park and then "we’ll lose this community — because that’s really what it is, a community.” "

The article also asked the candidates in the Ward 1 Council race about the park. According to the article:

  • Councilmember "[Brianne] Nadeau has spent months lobbying for $1.5 million in the council’s 2019 spending bill that would allow the city to buy the land. Should that fail, she said, the mayor might still be able to reallocate money to buy the park if it were for sale."

"'My sense is that we don’t need to panic just yet,' Nadeau said. 'There’s still other possibilities. But gosh, wouldn’t it be great if we could just get this done?'”

  • Ward 1 Candidate, "Jamie Sycamore, a dog owner, said Nadeau’s proposal falls short of what he believes the community needs: He would propose setting aside $3 million for the park."

"'That safety net is to make sure there’s enough money to be invested in everything that needs to get done,' said Sycamore, whose dog, Rory, has visited the park. 'If you want to show you’re really invested in the community, invest in the community. Pick up a shovel. Show you care.'”

  • "Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent C. Boese, said that $1.5 million might be too much. The city, he said, should take stock of its public land and get more input before determining if the park’s location is its best option."

"'If we are using public funds for the property, we should have a bigger conversation . . . rather than funneling money toward a predetermined outcome,' he said. 'Maybe it is the best site for a dog park. Maybe it isn’t. Either way, how can we know that unless we’re exploring all of our options?'”

Community Meeting Held On January 31

Last night members of the community gathered to learn information about the status of the dog park and what we need to do next. Representatives from 11th and Bark and Green Spaces for DC spoke, as well as Patrick Flynn of Patrick's Pet Care, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, and ANC Commissioners Angelica Castañon and Kent Bose. 

You can find the advocacy sheet distributed at the meeting, here.

To learn about future meetings and activities, join our email list