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Ward 4 Dispatch: Pools and Spray Parks, Oregon Avenue, How to Vote, and Summer Safety

Dear Neighbors,

I know it has been a very heavy week. Like many of you, I cannot stop thinking about the massacre in Texas and the devastating impact that guns have on our nation and our communities. I hope this update brings some encouragement or respite during a difficult time.

Ward 4 and Legislative News

Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Meeting

In Ward 4, we are working collaboratively with our DC agencies and coordinating with residents to help improve safety. We try to be as vigilant as possible throughout the year, but crime tends to spike during the summer months. We often have internal meetings to address public safety issues, but it felt important at this point to have a community-wide meeting. So on Wednesday, June 8 from 5pm-7pm at MacFarland Middle School (4400 Iowa Ave NW), we will host a Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Meeting that’s open to all Ward 4 neighbors. Our office and each agency will lay out specific actions to address crime and gun violence during the summer. We know that public safety is the collective function of a community, so there will also be opportunities for neighbors to support these important efforts. I hope that you can RSVP to join us. This will be an in-person meeting, but we will also try to share a livestream so neighbors can watch from home (more details to come).

These issues feel especially heavy in the wake of the massacre in Uvalde, as well as the gun violence in our city. On Tuesday I rushed from our budget vote to Powell Elementary, which went into lockdown after a nearby shooting. No parent should have to worry about their child being okay, or have to tell a child that someone was shot outside of their school – but that’s exactly what I saw happening at Powell on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. I want to thank the staff and school leaders at Powell for their composed and compassionate response. I have asked DGS to accelerate the repair of the broken gate around Powell. DC’s Safe Passage Team has also agreed to be in the area for the next two weeks to support students as they make their way to school. And we’re grateful that the victim of the shooting is expected to make a full recovery. If any of you are struggling right now, the Department of Behavioral Health’s Access HelpLine (1-888-793-4357) is an important mental health resource. While our leaders in Congress continue to fail us, we can still come together and do what is needed to keep each other safe.

Additional Wins for Our Community in the DC Budget 

On Tuesday this week, the Council had its second vote on the proposed DC budget. While the budget won’t be finalized until June 7, I was able to work with Chairman Mendelson to secure some additional important wins for our community.

  • Funding for Six Closed Circuit Neighborhood-Based Cameras. These cameras can play a deterrent role when it comes to gun violence and help close cases when a shooting or other crime occurs by producing high quality footage of the incident. Yet Fourth District, which encompasses most of Ward 4, has fewer of these cameras than any other police district in DC. As a result, we have been having to move cameras between areas in our community that warrant full coverage. These additional cameras we secured in the budget will close this gap and help improve safety in our neighborhoods.
  • $150,000 for a Comprehensive Study on School-Based Behavior Health. The pandemic has increased isolation and anxiety for many of our young people in DC. We cannot allow the social and emotional impacts of the past two years to hold back our kids from achieving their greatest potential. We have to understand the full costs for placing behavioral health clinicians in every school and providing other necessary mental health support. As advocates have explained, this study will lay the groundwork for us to be able to meet students’ full mental health needs.
  • And that’s not all that came out of Tuesday’s session. The Council also voted to dedicate $20 million in cash assistance to DC’s excluded workers, who are undocumented DC residents and workers in the informal economy who have been hit hard by the pandemic but are ineligible for unemployment benefits and other assistance programs. In addition, $1.4 million in funding was also restored to DC’s Tree Fund, which will fund the planting of approximately 4,000 new trees in our community. And finally, the Chairman revised the proposed map with new ANC and SMD boundaries and brought it up for its first vote. Ward 4 was praised as the only ward where no changes were made to what was initially proposed. This is another sign of the great work of our Ward 4 Redistricting Task Force! There will be a more comprehensive update on redistricting to come!

How to Vote in the DC Primary Election on June 21, 2022

With ballots arriving in our mail and ballot drop boxes opening up officially today, the 2022 DC Primary Election is upon us! I wanted to take a moment to share some useful information on how DC residents can vote in the June 21 Primary. This year, the DC Board of Elections is mailing all registered voters a ballot with a pre-paid return envelope. There are five ways to vote: returning you ballot quickly by mail (no postage required), returning your ballot to one of DC’s 55 secure drop boxes by Election Day, dropping off your ballot at any early vote center during Election Week (June 10-19 and June 21), or voting in person at any vote center on Election Day (June 21 from 7am-8pm). The day to register to vote or update your voter information so you can receive a mail-in ballot is May 31. If you miss this deadline, you can still register to vote in person at a vote center during Early Voting or on Election Day. Find more detailed information on how to participate in the DC Primary Election on my website.

Completing Our Ward 4 Rec Center Readiness Tour

This week we wrapped up our Ward 4 Rec Center Readiness Tour with visits to Petworth Rec Center, Upshur, Hamilton, Lafayette-Pointer, Riggs-LaSalle, Lamond, and Takoma. Our recreation centers are community gems, but persistence is needed to ensure our agencies resolve the big and small issues that arise as these facilities are used over time. I’m grateful to DPR and DGS staff for joining these visits. We followed up on outstanding work orders, flagged new issues, and spoke to our incredible staff to ensure they have what they need. I’ll be coordinating with the agencies over the coming weeks to have these issues addressed.

Here are just a few notable updates that many of you have been asking about:

  • Takoma Aquatic Center: As part of our visit, we received this update from DGS sharing that global supply chain issues have delayed the reopening of Takoma pool towards the end of July 2022. Takoma pool was temporarily closed last spring for roof and HVAC repairs, but the reopening has been significantly delayed. During this period, DGS will perform additional preventative maintenance to the pool. I’m coordinating with DC Health and DPR to ensure they can test the pool and staff the center as soon as repairs are completed so it can reopen as soon as possible.
  • Emery Heights Rec Center: For the past two summers, Emery has struggled with issues to its HVAC system. I’m asking agencies to escalate and prioritize repairs so Emery can have a functional HVAC system on both floors. I’m also pressing agencies to address other persistent issues, such as flooding and broken lights.
  • Petworth Rec Center: Many of you frequently asked me why the bathrooms are so frequently locked at Petworth. The staff at the center clarified that the bathrooms’ exterior doors are locked for security reasons, but residents can enter the bathrooms from inside the Rec Center. They also shared that the outdoor doors will be unlocked as we enter the summer months.

Photo by Abraham Clayman.

Community Resources

Oregon Avenue Now Fully Open from Western Ave to Military Road

Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods, and Hawthorne residents, rejoice! I’m excited to share that Oregon Avenue is finally fully open, from Western Avenue all the way down to Military Road. It looks great, too! Thank you to DDOT for their work, and to all the neighbors who stuck with us!

DC Outdoor Pools and Spray Parks Open This Holiday Weekend!

The time has come! DC’s outdoor pools will open this Memorial Day Weekend (May 28-30) from 10am-6pm each day. After Memorial Day, outdoor pools are open on weekends only. Then, starting Monday, June 27, all outdoor pools will open six days a week on individual summer schedules. Upshur is the only outdoor pool in Ward 4, but residents may also want to check out other outdoor pools such as the new Hearst pool in Cleveland Park, Banneker Pool in Ward 1, or Langdon pool in Ward 5. Meanwhile, DC’s spray parks also open this weekend and will be open seven days a week (except for five hours of required maintenance). Ward 4 is fortunate to have spray parks at Fort Stevens Rec Center, Lafayette-Pointer Rec Center, Petworth Rec Center, Riggs-LaSalle Rec Center, and Takoma Community Center.

WMATA Expands MetroBus Service and MetroRail Service on the Yellow and Green Line

Thanks to an increase in bus driver hiring, WMATA is expanding service on several MetroBus routes starting Sunday, May 29. For DC, these routes include the 32, 33, 36, 42, 43, 64, 70, 74, 79, 90, 92, D2, D8, G2, G8, H2, H4, H6, L2, M4, N2, N4, P6, S2, S9, U4, X2, and the X3. Check out the new timetables for more details. Please note that the M4 route will be extended to Knollwood Retirement Community via Oregon Avenue NW, but that change might not go into effect until some point in June since Oregon Avenue is just now (fully) reopening to the public. This week WMATA also increased frequency on the Green and Yellow lines with trains arriving every 15 minutes at each station. That means that stations serviced by both lines – from Greenbelt to L’Enfant Plaza – will see trains arrive every 7-8 minutes. Meanwhile, Red Line trains continue to operate every 10 minutes, and Blue, Orange, and Silver line trains operate every 20 minutes – with more frequent service at stations that are served by multiple lines throughout the system. WMATA also announced last week that it’s on track to restore the 7000-series railcars in late summer after installing automated inspection systems to test railcar wheel sets in real-time.

DPR Boost Summer Camp Slots Still Available for Kids Ages 11-13

There are still some summer camps slots available for children ages 11-13 through DPR’s Boost Camp program, which offers high-quality enrichment and recreation in addition to an academic component to accelerate learning. Camps with slots open include Journalism Camp, Robotics Camp, Challenge Camp, and Rocket Camp. And several of the camps are taking place at Raymond Rec Center here in Ward 4! Visit DPR’s website to learn more and sign up.

Playground Repairs at Picnic Grove 24 in Rock Creek Park

The National Park Service shared that the playground equipment at Picnic Grove 24 (across from the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center) will be closed through the end of June to allow the safe repair of equipment and to replace play surfaces. The remainder of the grove (picnic shelter and restrooms) will remain open. Here’s to having the playground open and in better shape soon!

DPW Hiring Fair for Tow Truck Drivers, and DPR Filling Hundreds of Summer Jobs

DPW is hosting a hiring fair on Wednesday, June 8 from 12pm-5pm at the North Michigan Park Rec Center (1333 Emerson St NE) to hire several tow truck drivers. Applicants should bring their Valid Commercial Driver’s License (Class B), DOT Medical Certificate, and highlight their tow truck driver experience. Meanwhile, DPR is hiring for more than 700 positions for this summer! Open positions include lifeguards, camp counselors, park rangers, operations managers, and more. If you know someone looking for a summer job or a young person looking for an engaging and paid activity over the summer, please ask them to apply.

Honda Civic and Honda Accord Owners, Beware of Air Bag Thefts

Our area is experiencing an increase in car break-ins targeting Honda Accords and Honda Civics in order to take the vehicle’s air bag. Fourth District advises caution and shared tips for preventing these thefts, including: purchasing a steering wheel locking device; parking in well-lit, high-traffic areas; locking your car; removing all valuables; and ensuring your car’s alarm is functioning properly.

Ward 4 Small Business Grant Awardees and Robust Retail Grant Program

This week I was proud that several of our Ward 4 businesses secured small business grants under the Great Streets program. Congratulations to Atxondo, Zuri Bistro, Kukus Beauty Supply, Zeman Market, J & J Mex-Taqueria, The VIP Room, and Deset Ethiopian Restaurant for their awards. And thank you to our Main Street Associations for helping businesses apply, including Upper Georgia Ave Main Street, The Parks Main Street, and Uptown Main Street. Do you know a Ward 4 small business still looking for support? The Robust Retail Program program is distributing grants worth up to $7,500 for brick-and-mortal businesses across the District with applications due on June 8.

Children Ages 5-11 Now Eligible for Booster Shots at DC Vaccine Sites 

Last week, the CDC recommended that children ages 5-11 receive a COVID booster five months after their initial vaccination series. Today, DC Health announced that children ages 5-11 can walk into any of DC’s COVID Centers to receive their booster shot if at least five months have passed since their initial vaccination series. Be sure to confirm which COVID Centers are open before visiting on DC Health’s website. As cases increase across the country, a booster dose will safely help restore and enhance protection against severe illness. 

New Lamond-Riggs Library to Be Named After Lillian J. Huff

This week the DC Public Library Board voted to name the newly-rebuilt Lamond-Riggs Library after Mrs. Lillian J. Huff, a civil leader, activist, and organizer who led the quest to attain a library in the Lamond-Riggs neighborhood for two decades. The full name of the new library will be “Lamond-Riggs / Lillian J. Huff Library,” allowing the library to still feature the name of the neighborhood in its title. Construction is coming along well on the new library building, which is on track to open this summer. Check out construction progress in the photo (via Robert Oliver) and stay tuned for more updates!

Neighborhood Events

Summer Vibes Kickoff and Pool Opening Day at Upshur

On Saturday, May 28 at 10:30am families can join DPR, Mayor Bowser, and your Ward 4 Councilmember for the Annual Pool Opening Day Celebration at Upshur Pool! Enjoy free food, music, giveaways, and the first splash of 2022!

DC Black Pride This Memorial Day Weekend

On Friday, May 27 through Monday, May 30 DC Black Pride Festival returns to the District after a two-year hiatus! Organized by the Center for Black Equity, this year’s DC Black Pride has more than 25 events around the city, highlighting the Black LGBTQ community in DC. Check out the schedule for a full listing of events.

NEW DATE: Ward 4 CARE Day in Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods, and Hawthorne

On Thursday, June 2 from 4pm-7pm my team and I and community volunteers will be bringing Ward 4 CARE Day to Chevy Chase, Barnaby Woods, and Hawthorne starting from Lafayette-Pointer Rec Center (5900 33rd St. NW). RSVP to join as we check in on neighbors, share resources, problem solve with DC agencies, and bring our community closer together.

“Youth Got Talent” Community Block Party in Petworth

On Friday, June 3 from 4pm-8pm there will be a Youth Got Talent Community Block Party at the intersection of 14th & Quincy NW. There will be performances, city resources, moon bounce, face painting, music, and more. If you are 24 years or younger and want to perform, please email and by June 1!

Rock Creek Park Pedestrian Safety Celebration

On Saturday, June 4 at 1pm-3pm the Rock Creek Conservancy, National Park Service, and DC representatives will gather to celebrate improvements for safety at road crossings along Rock Creek Park’s trails, sparked by research by local students. We’ll hear from park leaders as well as Ward 4 resident and Alice Deal 8th grader Finn Farrell about these important efforts. Please RSVP to attend.

Open House for Lafayette-Pointer Parks’ New Plant Pollinator Garden 

On Saturday, June 4 from 10am-12pm there will be an open house for Lafayette-Pointer Park’s new native plant pollinator garden at the corner of Quesada and Broad Branch NW. The garden was donated by the friends, family, and neighbors of late Chevy Chase resident Leslie Rathjens as a gift to the Chevy Chase community. There will be cake, coffee, refreshments, and other treats, as well as the opportunity to meet conservation gardener Jessica Lee, representatives of the Friends of Lafayette-Pointer Park board, children’s handicraft maker Renee Montgomery, and members of the US Geological Survey Native Bee Lab.

Shepherd Park Weed Warriors Take on Shepherd Field 

On Sunday, June 5 from 2pm-4pm the Shepherd Park Weed Warriors will be working to remove invasive vines and shrubs and to spread the wood chips at Shepherd Field. Volunteers are needed, so come lend a hand with beautifying the neighborhood! Bring work gloves, sturdy shoes, and long pants. Contact with any questions.

And don’t forget to visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9am-1pm

As we enter Memorial Day Weekend, let us take a moment to honor all those who gave up their lives for our country and our communities. More than 5,000 DC residents died in service to our nation. Their sacrifice warrants both our profound gratitude and full equality for the District through DC Statehood.

Wishing you all a meaningful and restful Memorial Day Weekend.

Yours in Community,