by Pat Jakopchek
ANC 3F07 commissioner
Each weekday, over 37,000 cars travel through our neighborhood along Connecticut Avenue. Their riders head to one of the countless commitments of their modern lives.
All the while, some of our community’s biggest gems sit just a few hundred feet from the edges of that thoroughfare.
Contrary to what some may claim, the value the Soapstone Valley and Melvin C. Hazen Parks provide is no secret. In the midst of the country’s 7th biggest metro area, green spaces like these provide an oasis from the concrete, crowds and cacophony that dominate so many other parts of our city.
They’re home to unexpected wildlife and unique vegetation alike. They serve as a ready resource for pet owners and local hikers. And they enhance both the physical fitness of local residents and also our mental well-being.
Despite the clear benefits Soapstone and Melvin Hazen provide, they are at-risk. Damage from increased usage, storm water runoff and waste from humans and animals alike threatens these parks’ long-term health.
Soapstone, specifically, faces potential catastrophic damage from exposed sewer pipes and manholes. Discussions on how to replace and repair its aging infrastructure are now in their fourth year.
It’s clear that these important resources need our protection and attention. That’s one reason why ANC 3F established the Soapstone Valley & Melvin C. Hazen Parks and Trails Committee at its September meeting. A joint effort of commissioners and citizens, the committee will provide recommendations about parks and trails issues to the ANC at large.
In addition to preservation issues, the standing committee will examine maintenance and signage, help organize various stakeholder groups and chart out a long-term vision for the parks, including the proposed expansion of the Rock Creek Park/Valley Historic District.
The Soapstone Valley & Melvin C Hazen Parks and Trails Committee holds its next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, November 9th at Forest Hills of DC (4901 Connecticut Ave NW). The meeting is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.
If you’re interested in learning more about the committee or joining our team, please email me at Pat.Jakopchek@gmail.com.