The first dog park east of the Anacostia is slated for the intersection of Texas Avenue and C Street in Southeast. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
The first dog park east of the Anacostia is slated for the intersection of Texas Avenue and C Street in Southeast. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

Bowser administration officials continue to prepare for the opening of the first dog park located east of the Anacostia River in Ward 7 and community leaders in that part of the city promise that more will be coming soon. 

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) working in concert with the Department of General Services (DGS) remain in the process of creating a dog park – a playground-like setting where dogs can roam freely with their owners without bothering others – that will be located at the intersection of Texas and C Street Avenues in Southeast. 

Faron Carter of Broughton Construction serves as the senior project manager for the Texas Avenue dog park and will work with Century Engineering on its development. The construction will start in December and has been slated for completion in the summer of 2023.

Dog parks in the District formally started after 2007 when the mayoral administration of Adrian Fenty greenlighted their formation. For now, all operating dog parks, maintained by DPR, can only be found in neighborhoods west of the river. 

In 2017, Ward 7 resident Clyde Darren Thompson and a group of his neighbors and interested people formed the East River Dog Park Group (ERDPG) to secure a facility in their neighborhood. The ERDPG received the approval of the 7F advisory neighborhood commission for a dog park on Nov. 19, 2018 with a letter of support. 

However, Thompson said several delays have prevented the dog park from becoming a reality.

“The coronavirus pandemic had a lot to do with it plus it seems that in D.C. when Black citizens want something, the D.C. government is slow to respond,” he said. “When new residents come and ask for something, they are responded to a lot quicker.”

The update on the dog park’s progress took place on July 19 in a Zoom call directed by Carter and officials with DPR and DGS. Thompson attended the meeting and said afterward the process for building the dog park seems to be moving in the right direction.  

“I see the city is moving along with building our dog park,” Thompson said. “While the specific space in that area is not exactly where we wanted the dog park to be, we will go along with it because we don’t want any more delays.”

While the Texas Avenue site will be a first for east of the river, Thompson spoke of his awareness of efforts to have dog parks in Oxon Run Park in Ward 8 in Southeast and in the Kenilworth neighborhood in Ward 7 in Northeast. 

Salim Adofo, chairman of the 8C advisory neighborhood commission in Ward 8, confirmed Thompson’s claim.

“A group of residents approached our commission about establishing a dog park in Oxon Run Park,” he said. “In January 2021, our commission passed a resolution supporting the dog park there. DPR acknowledged our application and approved it. Mayor Bowser put money in her budget for its construction, about $2 million, but the council pared it down to $1.2 million.”

Adofo said many Ward 8 residents want a dog park.

“They want to have a place close by where they can walk with their pets and have them play around without a leash,” he said. “They want to be able to do this in Ward 8 and not have to go to Ward 6 or to Virginia.”

There has been a discussion among some residents on blogs and social media that dog parks serve as a sign of gentrification, a process of changing a neighborhood with better amenities and housing but with displacement of poor residents. 

Both Thompson and Adofo dismiss the idea that dog parks reflect ongoing gentrification.

“Look, I get it – I am Black and I live in Ward 7,” Thompson said. “Some people are saying why make a dog park a priority when there are so many other needs. Besides, this community has a lot of Black dog owners who will use the dog park. But the dog park will be for everyone.”

Adofo agrees with Thompson.

“The people who will use the Oxon Run Park dog park are overwhelmingly Black,” he said. “We know there is an influx of new residents. However, Black people in this area want amenities that are available to residents in other parts of the city.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.