The National Park Service announced Wednesday that it would remove Melvin Hazen’s name from the Rock Creek tributary and trail bisected by Connecticut Avenue, as well as the community garden on Sedgwick Street NW.
The park was named sometime in the 1940s for Melvin C. Hazen, who was a DC Commissioner when he died in 1941. Beginning in the 1920s, when Hazen was a city surveyor, he advocated for the destruction of Reno, a largely Black neighborhood that stood where he wanted to build a different park – Fort Reno. After Neil Flanagan documented that history in his 2017 Washington City Paper article, “The Battle of Fort Reno,” Rock Creek Conservancy and ANC 3F started pushing NPS to change Melvin Hazen Park’s name. DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton also urged the Park Service to request the name’s removal.
NPS, in a statement Wednesday, said it has authority to do so, and will refer to the park and trail as Reservation 630. It also said that it no longer has the authority to give the park a new name. That will require an act of Congress.
Rock Creek Conservancy, in its own statement, said it celebrates the NPS decision to remove Melvin Hazen’s name. And, it will be donating a new sign to replace the one at Reno Road and Tilden Streets NW.