“I’ve got four news items for you—four!” Friends of Rose Park President Dave Dunning was filled with enthusiasm at a March 25 chat with The Georgetowner at a nearby café.
Dunning had just gotten back from a long meeting with officials from the District Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service. The two agencies both manage sections of the nearly five-acre park that stretches between M and P Streets along the west side of Rock Creek Parkway.
In just a few weeks, a city project to realign and pave park pathways will begin at the M Street entrance to Rose Park, according to Dunning.
That will be accompanied by beautification of the hillside bordering the parkway, which runs along the park’s west side. “Cherry trees and more daffodils and other plants will be added to the hillside to help prevent erosion,” Dunning said.
The chain-link fencing between the pathway and the slope will then be replaced by a more attractive wood barrier to prevent balls and bicyclists (and children!) from rolling down the steep slope.
Finally, the flower beds throughout the park will be reworked with help from the landscapers who designed Georgetown Waterfront Park’s plantings of natural Potomac river plants, according to Dunning. This project, like the hillside beautification, involves volunteer efforts by members of the Friends of Rose Park, the Georgetown Garden Club and the Georgetown BID, as well as expert help from the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban & Community Forestry Program.
In addition to these projects, the Friends are also planning to bring back for a month or more this summer the popular art installation of outdoor panels by Kiril Jeliazkov, who displayed 81 pieces of his large and colorful series last year.
Throughout the year, the park also hosts concerts, movies and children’s holiday events, such as a fall Halloween parade and fair and a Christmas parade. An outdoor market takes place on Wednesday afternoons through much of daylight-saving season, this year starting on May 1. Tennis and sports tournaments are organized periodically.
All this is done by a Friends of Rose Park volunteer board of 15 members. The annual fundraiser—usually at a historic home in the Rose Park area—brings in around $25,000. “Those funds are used for landscaping and park maintenance projects only,” said Dunning, the organization’s third president after David Abrams and Pam Moore.
The Friends of Rose Park began in 1997 with a neighborhood survey to determine the park’s priority needs. The new organization established monthly Saturdays for mowing, collecting garbage, clipping bushes, painting and sweeping, also contracting to aerate, fertilize and seed the grounds.
Later, the Friends adopted by-laws and began paperwork to incorporate as a 501(c)(3). It convinced the Park Service to seed and fertilize the land it owned and organized volunteers and contractors to remove dead trees, plant new one and remove overgrown bushes.
Rose Park was established in 1918 to serve African American children. Acquired by the District in 1922 as a “colored” facility, it was unofficially one of D.C.’s few integrated parks during the years of segregation. In 2015, the tennis courts were dedicated to Margaret Peters and Roumania Peters Walker, African American sisters who lived nearby, played on the courts and became trailblazers for black women in professional tennis.
Also in recent years, the two children’s playgrounds, the recreation building, the tennis courts, the playing fields and the outdoor sitting and picnic areas have been completely renovated.
The Friends of Rose Park has no paid staff. Volunteers do the calls, plug the events by word of mouth and sometimes post notices at the park. But Dunning credits most of the turnout and success of activities to the “mommy network” of Rose Park, who continually (along with some daddies) use the renovated playgrounds.
Friends of Rose Park Board Members
David Dunning, President
Russell Bridges, Treasurer
Temporarily Vacant, Secretary
Rose Park is managed both by the District Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service.
To hold an event on Rose Park’s Department of Parks and Recreation- managed land (the softball field, basketball court, tennis courts, recreation center and playground areas at 26th and O and Dumbarton Streets), contact: Permits Office, Department of Parks and Recreation, 3149 16th St. NW, Washington, DC 20016. Visit dpr.dc.gov or call 202-673-7647.
To hold an event on Rose Park’s National Park Service-owned land (the north lawn along P Street down to Rock Creek Parkway and the south lawn along 27th Street between Dumbarton and M Streets), contact: Office of the Superintendent, Rock Creek Park, National Park Service, 3545 Williamsburg Lane NW, Washington, DC 20008. Visit nps.gov/rocr or call 202-895-6000