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Ward 4 Dispatch: Rec Center Repairs, Summer Safety, and Reduced WMATA Fares

Dear Neighbors,

It’s officially summer! This week I’m diving deep into recreation center maintenance, highlighting upcoming Council hearings, and announcing a Ward 4 summer safety strategic planning meeting. We also have the details on Whole Foods opening at The Parks at Walter Reed next week, WMATA’s new reduced fare program, new operating hours at our public libraries, and more. We also have great events lined up, but keep an eye on social media (of the group planning each event) in case any of the outdoor events are postponed due to rain.

Zeroing in on Rec Center Maintenance

As part of my responsibilities as Chair of the Council’s Committee on Facilities and Family Services, last week I toured eight recreation centers — one in each Ward — to provide a cross-section of DGS’ maintenance of recreation facilities overall and identify systemic issues that we can address through further oversight or legislation. Staff from DGS and DPR, SBOE Representatives, ANC Commissioners, and community members joined each tour to provide their insights and coordinate follow up steps. Here are some of our key takeaways:

  1. Several sites have ongoing HVAC cooling issues that must be resolved immediately. Some of these sites are hosting summer camps starting next week, but they had broken AC systems in key rooms or building-wide. DGS staff pledged to do everything in their power to address these issues before camp starts, but it is alarming that these issues were not resolved sooner.
  2. Community members identified several active security concerns. Multiple sites had been the targets of overnight thefts that resulted in the loss of expensive equipment and damage, while others had broken windows. DGS’ Protective Services Division and DPR’s Office of Risk Management should review their existing security assessments and ensure residents and staff are kept safe.
  3. Some basic playground requests have languished for months without being addressed. Several playground work orders have been open for months despite their relatively standard nature. Instead of having to order individual parts and wait for them to arrive, DGS should keep an inventory of items like swing sets, swing chains, playground fences, and gates so they can quickly and efficiently make repairs.
  4. Current trash and recycling collection efforts are inadequate. DGS provides custodial services for loose litter in DPR facilities and manages the contracts for recycling bin and trash dumpster collections, while DPW collects waste from park trash bins. Community members cited infrequent and inadequate solid waste collections across all facilities, and we observed overflowing bins during most tours. DGS should coordinate with DPW and DPR to enhance service levels to keep our facilities clean.
  5. Several other smaller maintenance issues emerged too. Pest control is a concern both indoors and at outdoor recreational facilities, and DGS teams will need to visit sites more regularly to address it. Some maintenance issues are made worse by ambiguous agency ownership. Action is often delayed because it is unclear whether DGS, DPR, or DDOT is responsible for correcting the problem. We need the agencies to come together, sort through these ‘sticky’ issues, and establish standard operating procedures. Some sites also experience irregular replenishments of bathroom supplies, which can be avoided with better coordination between DGS and DPR’s site-based staff. DGS is also overly reliant on outside contractors to complete work orders with roughly half of its open work orders currently assigned to contractors. Some unique or complex tasks need to be outsourced, but bringing more work in-house will improve results and reduce costs.

Although our tours focused on necessary areas of improvement, I also want to recognize the incredible work taking place in our rec centers every day: robust programs for people of all ages, expanded summer camps, thousands of free meals being distributed to our youth, events that bring our community together, and nonstop recreation. And none of it would be possible without our amazing rec center staff and the hard-working agency personnel at DGS and DPR.

Important Council Hearings Next Week

Now that our work on the DC budget is done, the Council is stepping up its rhythm on legislation and oversight. Here are some important hearings coming up where neighbors can testify, submit written comments, or tune it to stay updated on critical issues:

  • Tuesday, June 27 starting at 12pm: the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on the “Safer Stronger Amendment Act” that proposes increasing criminal penalties and making other changes to DC’s criminal justice system.
  • Wednesday, June 28 starting at 10am: the Labor Committee will take up my legislation to close a big loophole in DC’s minimum wage law that allows businesses to avoid paying their workers a living wage by rotating them between job sites in-and-out of DC.
  • Thursday, June 29 starting at 10am: the Housing Committee will host a hearing on a bill that aims to stop DCHA’s practice overpaying landlords who house voucher holders.
  • Thursday, July 6 starting at 9:30am: the Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a historic hearing on the Green New Deal for a Lead-Free DC Act, my bill to rapidly accelerate the removal of all lead pipes in DC, while also creating good, green jobs that bring opportunity to our communities.

If you have any questions or need help signing up to testify, please contact me or my team!

Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Meeting

On Thursday, June 29 from 6:30pm-8:30pm, my office will host an in-person Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Planning Meeting with DC agencies to discuss specific actions to improve public safety during the summer months and beyond. We know that communities usually experience an increase in crime during the summer, so it is critical that we ensure that agencies are addressing the safety issues in our neighborhoods and are coordinating across all of DC government to be as effective as possible. All Ward 4 residents are encouraged to come to the event and share their specific concerns and ideas. The event will be held at Barnard Elementary, and neighbors will be able to enter through the school entrance at 4th & Crittenden NW (not Decatur Street). Please RSVP to attend, and keep an eye out for a recap of the event if you’re not able to be there in person.

Community Resources

New Whole Foods at The Parks to Open Next Week

The new Whole Foods at The Parks at Walter Reed (7130 12th Street NW) will open next week on Wednesday, June 28 at 8am! The store will feature more than 800 local products, a full-service seafood and meat counter, and a bakery. The store’s hours on opening day will be 8am-10pm with complimentary coffee, breakfast bites, and a free tote bag and Secret Saver coupon for the first 300 customers. Regular store hours will be 7am-10pm all week. Learn more in Whole Foods’ announcement. On July 20, there will also be a ribbon-cutting and community celebration to celebrate the opening of Whole Foods and the entire Marketplace Plaza.

Residents with SNAP Can Now Get 50% Off All WMATA Fares

DC, Maryland, and Virginia residents who are currently enrolled in SNAP (previously known as the food stamp program) are now able to sign up for WMATA’s reduced fare program, which reduces fares by 50% of all of your MetroBus and MetroRail trips. All you need to enroll is a SmarTrip card for you and each person in your household, an active SNAP EBT card, a government-issued ID card or passport, and your phone number. You can register online and in-person at three enrollment centers starting on June 26. Please sign up if you qualify for the program, and spread the word to your neighbors so they do the same!

Upcoming Deadline: Commemorative Project Nominations

This coming Wednesday, June 28 is the deadline for nominating Ward 4 individuals, events, or organizations to be commemorated as part of the Ward 4 Commemorative Project. This project is being facilitated by Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street, and it will lead to a statue, sculpture, or plaque installed within Ward 4 to recognize the honoree. Subjects can include a person who passed away more than 10 years ago or an event that occurred at least 10 years ago.

DC Libraries to Open and Close an Hour Earlier

Starting Monday, June 26, neighborhood libraries will open and close an hour earlier on Mondays through Thursdays to “to better serve those who co-work at the library, seniors, older students, and caregivers with young children.” That means our Petworth, Takoma, Chevy Chase, Shepherd Park Juanita Thornton, and Lamond-Riggs/Lillian Huff libraries will be open from 9am-8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays — and from noon-8pm on Thursdays.

Free Woodworking Classes for ANC 4A Residents

The Zenith Community Arts Foundation is offering FREE woodworking classes for Ward 4 residents ages 18 and older who live in ANC 4A, which includes Brightwood, Colonial Village, North Portal, The Parks at Walter Reed, and Shepherd Park. The classes will take place on July 8, July 15, and July 22 from 10:30am-1pm, and they will be taught by expert cabinetmaker Ric Simmons. Please call Lynda Smith-Bugge at 202-783-8005 to sign up for classes or to express your interest in more woodworking opportunities. Read the full announcement for more details, and thank you ANC 4A for making this possible!

DPR Opens New Summer Outdoor Pool Classes

DPR’s Aquatics Division recently added many new summer classes at outdoor pools across DC for children, adults, and seniors of all skill levels. Visit DPR’s programs webpage and click “Learn to Swim” to explore available options and register soon to claim your spot!

Improved Metro Red Line Service

Last week WMATA increased service on the Red Line. Now, Red Line trains arrive every 6 minutes (up from 8 minutes) on weekdays until 9:30pm. This is good news for neighbors in Takoma, Fort Totten, and other Ward 4 residents who rely on the Red Line.

Update on Curbside Composting Pilot Program

If you signed up for DC’s free curbside composting pilot program, you should have received an email notifying you whether you were accepted into the program last week. If you didn’t hear back yet, first check your spam email folder, then email to ask.

New Commissioner in Petworth, Vacancy in Riggs Park

This week I had the honor of swearing in Eric Heller as the new ANC Commissioner for Single Member District 4C07 in Petworth (see map below). Commissioner Heller can be reached at, and we are grateful to him for being willing to serve. At the same time, Ward 4 needs a new ANC Commissioner to fill a new vacancy in Single Member District 4B09 in Riggs Park (also pictured below). If you live in this part of Ward 4, consider stepping up to serve your neighborhood. You can learn more about the process of running on the DC Board of Elections website, or look up who your ANC Commissioner is on the ANC website.

Neighborhood Events

Closing Reception at Zenith Gallery: Dimensional Dialogue

On Saturday, June 24 at 2pm-5pm Zenith Gallery (1429 Iris St NW) will host a meet-the-artist and closing reception for Dimensional Dialogue, an exhibit featuring new Joan Konkel works.

Petworth Jazz Project on the Lawn

On Saturday, June 24 from 5pm-8pm Petworth Jazz Project returns with a performance by Integriti Reeves on the lawn of Petworth Rec Center (801 Taylor St NW). Baba Ras D will open the event with a special kids program at 5:30pm before Integriti Reeves takes the stage. Come get your dose of summer, music, and community with neighbors — and mark your calendar for the next Petworth Jazz Project event on July 22. Please keep an eye on Petworth Main Street’s social media for weather-related announcements about the event.

Land Conservation Day at Hellbender

On Sunday, June 25 from 1pm-7pm Casey Trees will host a free Land Conservation Day event at Hellbender Brewing Company. Celebrate with tree tours, tree trivia, live music, games, a BBQ food truck, and a Casey Trees seasonal beer. Check out the lineup for this great event.

First Anniversary Celebration for Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library

On Tuesday, June 27 from 10:30am-3pm the Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library will host a day full of fun events for all ages to celebrate the new library’s first anniversary with light snacks and refreshments sponsored by the Friends of the Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Library. Check out the full lineup of events, which includes story time, crafts, music, a Heritage Wall, and a celebration reception. Later on, at 5pm-8pm the same day, the library will also host the kickoff for Making Of the Go-Go Band, which offers the opportunity to work with DC Go-Go legends, develop your musicianship, and perform in front of thousands during Art All Night!

Summer in the Parks at Carter Barron Mini Oasis

On Thursday, June 29 from 6pm-8pm the Rock Creek Conservancy and NPS will host a Summer in the Parks event with free fun for people of all ages near Carter Barron Amphitheater. Bring a picnic and enjoy games, activities, and music from DJ Lance Reynolds!

Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Planning Meeting

On Thursday, June 29 from 6:30pm-8:30pm, I will host a Ward 4 Summer Safety Strategic Meeting with DC public safety agencies at Barnard Elementary (430 Decatur St NW). The meeting will focus on planning specific actions to address crime and gun violence during the summer and discuss opportunities for neighbors to engage. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

Genevieve N. Johnson Community Health Fair & Bazaar

On Friday, June 30 from 10am-3pm and Saturday, July 1 from 10am-3pm the Genevieve N. Johnson Senior Center will host its annual Health Fair and Bazaar on the lawn of the Senior Center (4817 Blagden Ave NW) to share invaluable resources to Ward 4 residents related to health and wellness — and offer quality goods from local vendors. Don’t miss this great event!

NEW DATE: School’s Out Movie Night and Foam Party on Kennedy Street!

On Friday, June 30 from 5pm-10pm Uptown Main Street and our amazing Kennedy Street Businesses are teaming up to host a Movie Night and Foam Party at 716 Kennedy Street to celebrate the end of the school year! Come enjoy the DC Public Library on the Go-Go mobile unit (5pm-8pm), a foam party (6pm-8pm), and a screening of The Super Mario Bros (at 8pm).

Happy Hour on the Plaza at The Parks at Walter Reed

On Friday, June 30 from 5:30pm-7:30pm The Parks at Walter Reed will host Summer Rosé on the Plaza, a low-key Friday evening happy hour for neighbors to drink, dance, and mingle. The event is free with beverages and food to purchase, and RSVP is required. The event will take place at the brand new Marketplace Plaza (7175 12th St NW) at Georgia & Dahlia NW.

Vinyl & Vintage Marketplace at 14th Street Graffiti Museum

On Saturday, July 1 from 10am-3pm 14th Street Graffiti Museum will host an outdoor vinyl and vintage marketplace with hundreds of funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae, and rock LPs available, as well as crafts from local vendors and DJ music. Check it out at 14th & Crittenden NW!

Summer Breeze Line and Hand Dance Social at Lamond

On Saturday, July 1 from 1pm-5pm Lamond Rec Center will host a Summer Breeze Line and Hand Dance Social event with hand dancing, slow dragging, bopping, and line dancing to good music. Put on your dancing shoes and bring your favorite food and non-alcoholic drinks!

Visit your local Ward 4 Farmers Markets

Ward 4 has several great Farmers Market options every weekend. Check them out:

Local News Links

Washington Post: DC Schools Adopt New Social Studies Standards for First Time Since 2006

Channel 9: DC Schools Will Have Specific Menstrual Health Education Standards Next School Year

DCist: House Republicans Want To Ban Traffic Cameras In DC, Keep City From Legalizing Marijuana Sales

Planet Forward: DC Community Activists Win All-Electric Bus Fleet in Ward 4

DCist: DC to Start Enforcing Bus-Only Lanes with Cameras In July, With Fines To Follow

DCist: ‘Everybody Needs To Be Brave’: For One DC Drag Queen, The Show Must Go On

WMATA: Metro to operate more train and bus service with improvements to Blue, Orange, and Silver lines and 68 bus routes beginning Monday

DCPS: Roosevelt Assistant Principal Darryl Powell Serenades the Class of 2023

DCPS: Coolidge Valedictorian Mariana Guadalupe Bermudez Pays Tribute to Her Family

Channel 4: Ida B Wells Middle School in Ward 4 Offers Cosmetology Class to Students

Ward 4 Dispatch: DC Budget Wins, Home Rule Music Fest, and Juneteenth

The accomplishments of our young people can never be celebrated enough. It has been a true joy taking part in graduation and promotion ceremonies for many of our Ward 4 schools this week. Our Ward 4 scholars are incredibly bright, talented, and kind — and they deserve to have their moment to shine. Congratulations to every graduate and all the families, friends, and educators who supported them along the way. And kudos to all of our amazing students for making it through this school year. I know we’re looking forward to a fun and restful summer.

Have a great weekend, neighbors. And stay dry over the next few rainy days!

Yours in Community,