by Marlene Berlin
What does it take to tame a jungle encroaching on the 3100 Brandywine north sidewalk? Navigating a bureaucratic jungle.
Last September, Jan and Jack Buresh took matters into their own hands and attacked the growth themselves. They again offered their services this year, but ANC Commissioner Sally Gresham would have none of it. She wanted the city to take responsibility.
The problem was no one wanted it – not the Department and Parks and Recreation, even though the Forest Hills recreation area is directly on the other side of the overgrown area to the west. The other city agency with a potential stake is the Department of Public Works, which keeps stop signs and roadways clear of brush. Then the Department of General Services crept into the picture when they cleared away some brush that encroached on the sidewalk earlier in the summer.
Sally Gresham is perfectly suited to cut through the bureaucratic jungle. I have known her a long time, going back to our Murch days when she wrested some land away from the National Park Service so Murch Elementary could have the playground space she thought it deserved (It took three years – but that’s another story for another time). So armed with all the knowledge and contacts she’s developed over the years, she has been using everything in her arsenal to cow one of these agencies into taking responsibility.
What she discovered is that DPW is in the clear. It’s not responsible for maintenance of DPR used and maintained land. DPR got that responsibility from the National Park Service when NPS handed over the land for the Forest Hills park and playground.
“DPR, thus now DGS (Department of General Services), is responsible for all maintenance work at Forest Hills Park, which includes the new playground, baseball field area and sculpture, the Brandywine sloped hillside abutting the sidewalk and the new playground’s Brandywine entrance,” says Sally.
Sally met in June with five DPR and DGS representatives, including Steve Anderson of DPR and Kirt Bakos of DGS. They told her that the DGS landscape contractor would clear the Brandywine sidewalk.
And lo and behold, it’s been done. I found not what I would call a manicured job, but it’s good enough, with brush cut back and a navigable sidewalk returned to us.
“Kudos go to Kirt and DGS for clearing the sidewalk,” Sally says. “I am in negotiation with Steve and Kirt on next steps but they have told me to meet with Jeffrey McInnis, new DPR Capital Improvements Director to get all of FHP on DPR/DGS radar screen.”
And a big thank you goes to Commissioner Gresham for all her hard work on ensuring we have a great playground and park.