by Margery Elfin
Six or seven years ago, Mel and I made a discovery which has brought us a lot of pleasure. We came upon a small pocket park in the Forest Hills neighborhood which was a restful and beautiful place to walk with our dog, Emmy.
We made going there a Sunday ritual. Nestled below the Austrian Embassy on 36th street, it was a little oasis. Nicely landscaped, the park is visually interesting with a mix, depending on the season, of daffodils or sunflowers along with flowering plantings and shade trees. There are old-fashioned lamp posts recalling a Victorian time period. Best of all are the curved flagstone walks which provide an element of pleasant surprise as one proceeds from one area to another.
There are hardly ever any people in the park. From time to time, in good weather, there may be a sunbather on the lower level, an occasional reader enjoying the quiet on one of the benches or dog walkers passing through. It used to be clean and well maintained — an urban getaway.
In the past couple of years, however, the park has deteriorated. There are broken flagstones, making walking dangerous. There are weed-covered areas impinging on the landscape design. It has a forlorn, untended look.
We’d like to bring this to the attention of the agency in charge of maintaining the park, but we’re not sure who is responsible. We believe it is State Department property, part of the huge embassy complex at Van Ness and quite probably part of the National Park Service. The decline in maintenance began well before the current federal government spending cuts and furloughs.
We are saddened to see this jewel we appreciate in its present state.
We’ve put out some feelers to the State Department, National Park Service, even DC Parks and Recreation, but have received no response. If you have any information, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 22nd update: A State Department agency has come forward as the overseer of this park, and it promises upgrades and repairs by this fall. Read about it here.