The District may get its paws on a Metro-owned parcel that hosts an unofficial dog park in Columbia Heights after all. In a letter sent to D.C. officials Tuesday, the transit authority’s general manager Paul Wiedefeld wrote that Metro had removed the approximately 7,000-square-foot parcel from the open market and would offer the District the chance to buy it.
The price? $2,150,000—equal to the fair market value of the property, according to Metro. Located at 1100 Park Road NW along a strip of restaurants and homes, the parcel has been used as a dog park since 2009, but it is not managed by the city’s parks department. Metro put it up for sale in January—along with other properties it no longer needs—soliciting bids from developers. D.C. had previously discussed acquiring the site but a deal did not emerge.
Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who represents Columbia Heights and had pushed for Metro to negotiate with D.C., released a copy of Wiedefeld’s letter on Twitter Wednesday. She and community group 11th and Bark, which had distributed a petition, praised the news.
Great news on the Columbia Heights dog park. I got this letter from @wmata yesterday evening. Thanks to our efforts, they decided to pull it off the market and will negotiate with the District to purchase the property. @11thandBark #SaveTheDogPark pic.twitter.com/zqaHa8194H— Brianne K. Nadeau (@BrianneKNadeau) May 22, 2019
Thank you @brianneknadeau for working with the community and making this happen. Greenspace is important to any community and Columbia Heights needs to preserve community spaces like the dog park. https://t.co/FnZNRnhD6z— 11thandBark (@11thandBark) May 22, 2019
Wiedefeld said both the Federal Transit Administration and Metro’s board must approve of the sale. Before this, he added, Metro expects to enter a purchase agreement with the city by June and execute it by July, after which stage the transaction would move toward a closing.
Some residents criticized the idea of a dog park being preserved on a developable plot of land as wrongheaded in a city that suffers from a dearth of affordable housing. But in a series of tweets, Nadeau defended the potential purchase, saying “this part of Ward 1 is both one of the densest residential areas of the city and also a neighborhood with some of the poorest access to open space.” She also noted that Metro land is not subject to affordable housing requirements in the same way that District-owned land sold to private developers now is.
Is this really the best use of this space? Imagine there were already affordable housing on the lot and we were tearing it down to build a dog park.— Nick Sementelli (@NSementelli) May 22, 2019
Same choice, different order, different optics. But it shouldn't be. https://t.co/dPa4gri0HX
I love dogs and all, but can think of a lot of other ways to spend $2.1 million. https://t.co/eIxQPKcBDE— Cait DeBaun (@CaitDeBaun) May 22, 2019
Really glad that DC wants to pay $2m for a dog park. Sure, it could instead be used for affordable housing, but hey, what do I know. https://t.co/EX9WAKxHiv— Alberto (@12minds) May 22, 2019
as a DC taxpayer, if the district of columbia uses $2 million taxpayer dollars to buy a goddam dog park i will... be displeased. thoroughly. https://t.co/hWW0wXXWXb— Logan Dobson (@LoganDobson) May 22, 2019
or the city could build housing for,,,people there https://t.co/YZuXm3sAdh— Timothy Charcuterie (@Marximillion_) May 22, 2019
This part of Ward 1 is both one of the densest residential areas of the city and also a neighborhood with some of the poorest access to open space. The grey area on this map shows locations that aren't within .5mi of @DCDPR space. The dog park would be at the star. pic.twitter.com/WXENsErFp6— Brianne K. Nadeau (@BrianneKNadeau) May 22, 2019
I am absolutely supportive of denser and more affordable housing across the city. If we're going to plan our neighborhoods effectively, that also means we need to provide for needed amenities like grocery stores, neighborhood services, and open space.— Brianne K. Nadeau (@BrianneKNadeau) May 22, 2019
It's worth noting that WMATA is not subject to the affordable housing requirements in land dispositions that DC Gov is. That means that even if a developer figured out how to build around the metro grates on this site, we would've gotten a handful of high-cost units here at best.— Brianne K. Nadeau (@BrianneKNadeau) May 22, 2019