You may have seen people walking around downtown Anacostia and in Kenilworth, Eastland Gardens, and Mayfair and talking with residents and business owners about the latest environmental and community challenges and opportunities. Those people are Clean Water Fund/Clean Water Action canvassers.
Help imagine the future of Kenilworth Park North
The canvassers have been talking about the future of Kenilworth Park North with residents in Ward 7. As Erin Garnaas-Holmes has written in Let’s make Kenilworth Park the best it can be, “Kenilworth Park is going to be restored.” Rather than simply wait and see what DC government does with the park, Erin and others (including the canvassers) are asking “How could a new Kenilworth Park best support you and your community?”
This isn’t a new question for the neighborhood. A public meeting in October 2018 about the National Park Service-led pollution cleanup project was attended by some residents who remembered the last time they came to a similar meeting—five years ago. Back then, they talked about getting renewed athletic fields, a new baseball diamond and other potential improvements.
Before than, in 1998, residents nearby learned that additional dumping was being allowed on the former landfill site. According to the Washington Post in 2000, “For nearly two years, two private firms hauled an estimated half-million tons of dirt and construction debris into the park. They did so in violation of city and federal environmental laws and regulations, but with the permission of a top National Park Service official.”
Before that, from 1942-1970, the area was a landfill. Trash was burned under the open sky right next to schools and residential neighborhoods.
Local leaders like ANC 7D Justin Lini have expressed their excitement about the park finally getting cleaned up, and groups like Washington Parks and People have been asking residents what they’d like to see in the park for a long time.
Erin argues that the park not only be cleaned up and offer a few more recreational fields, but that it could become an example for how parks can address historic environmental injustice. “Instead of just covering up the landfill—and its history—with some more soil and ball fields, what if the park was re-designed to directly benefit the surrounding neighborhood?” he asks.
What if a new Kenilworth park could be a place of history and healing? What if it were designed around physical wellness, psychological healing, and environmental restoration? What if a new park created jobs for people nearby and programs for the whole family? What if the park became a destination for the region, mirroring its beautiful neighbor, the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens?
CWA/CWF’s Michael Bochynski reports the intense interest on the part of Ward 7 residents about Kenilworth Park North during the canvassing campaign.
“There is no shortage of interest or opinions about what Kenilworth Park should be,” said Michael.
Land and Water Conservation Fund
The canvassers have also been engaging residents and businesses about the need to save the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). According to Brent Bolin, Clean Water Action’s Chesapeake Regional Director,
Authorization for the nation’s most successful conservation and recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), expired September 30. Failure by Congress to save this essential program will put the outdoor places we love and America’s recreational economy at extreme risk. The LCWF is a bipartisan program that protects and preserves our national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, monuments, and more than 40,000 state and local parks throughout the country.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has benefited DC over the years. InvestigateWest’s Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants: District of Columbia list, for example, contains LWCF grants between 1965 and 2011. The list shows $200,000 for improvements to the Anacostia Bathhouse, $29,000 for the 1986 Comprehensive Recreation Plan, and $330,000 for property acquisition at Watts Branch Park.