In 2013, Margery Elfin wrote about the “secret park” at 36th and Yuma Streets NW (map). She and her late husband Mel enjoyed taking their dog, Emmy, on walks through the pocket park’s shaded paths. But they were concerned that the park had been forgotten by its caretakers. The walkways were littered with broken flagstones. Some pavers were missing. Weeds were overtaking some of the plantings.
After some sleuthing, we learned that the U.S. State Department is responsible for maintaining the park, which is tucked between private homes on Yuma Street and the Austrian and Slovakian Embassies in the International Chancery Center. State’s property management office told us that repairs would begin that fall. The park was closed for nearly a year before it reopened in summer 2014, to the relief of the Elfins and all who enjoy it.
Earlier this summer, the State Department closed the pocket park again. But we didn’t have to wait so long for its reopening. ANC 3F01 Commissioner David Cristeal sent this update:
Neighbors again have access to a true neighborhood gem. Last week, gates allowing access to the pocket park east of 36th Street and south of Yuma Street were unlocked and opened.
The gates were closed earlier this summer for safety reasons. Neighbors responded with signs on the gate, phone calls and e-mail messages.
Needed repairs were then made and now the park is open again.
The small park is located at the northwest corner of the International Chancery Center (ICC), a 47-acre complex. The ICC contains 17 foreign embassies, the U.S. State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions building, two other parks and buffer areas, as well as the Whittle School (formerly Intelsat’s headquarters). The complex is owned and managed by the Office of Foreign Missions. It was originally conceived in the 1960s and developed in subsequent decades. The design of the ICC’s parks and gardens received several awards, including an Environmental Landscape Distinction Award (1990) and an Excellence in Landscape Award (1995).
The pocket park off 36th Street is a wonderfully wooded space, an oasis with a winding path containing a couple of small loops that make for, a great space for small child play (follow the leader trike!). It has several benches that make for easy places to read and relax. A quiet place for people of all ages.
Thank you to the neighbors who called and wrote, to Mary Cheh’s office, and to U.S. State Department Office of Foreign Missions staff who arranged to have the repairs completed and reopened the gates. Additional thanks to Chuck L. who provided background information on the ICC. Keep up the good work!