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Cobbs Park at 2nd/Mass/H Closed During Street Construction

As construction related to the 3rd Street Tunnel project continues the park at 2nd/Mass/H, sometimes referred to as Cobbs Park, has been closed. The current construction is performing utility relocation as a precursor to the Capital Crossing air rights development.

Shortly after the 3rd Street Tunnel related construction began the park become enclosed on 3 sides by chain link fencing. During that time past issues of safety/security/sanitation related to homeless at the park at Cobbs Park had again ramped up. On Saturday June 28th at 2:44am a shooting/homicide occurred at/near the park. In the last week the extra step to fully enclose the area in fencing and close the park for the remainder of construction was taken.

Be aware issues at Cobbs Park appear to be shifting to 2nd/NJ Park

Be aware issues at Cobbs Park appear to be shifting to 2nd/NJ Park

Please be aware that many of the individuals causing issues at Cobbs Park simply shifted to a park at 2nd and New Jersey Ave NW.
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Assault at Safeway on July 2nd

The Washington Blade thoroughly recaps an assault that occurred at the 5th & L Safeway on July 2nd. According to the report a gay man was assaulted by an unstable young black woman for asking “are you in line.” The suspect called the victim a “faggot” during the assault. When it was broken up the Safeway security guards escorted the woman off the premises rather than detain her for police.

The above video footage of the person of interest in the case was posted by DC MPD to Youtube.

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12 Volt Electronics BUSTED

According to NBC4 Washington, the 12 Volt Electronics store next to Tunnel Liquors on the 300 Block of H Street NW was busted by MPD for fencing stolen items. Confiscated items at the business included cellphones, electronics, and even social security and credit cards.

Several quotes from MPD officer George Kucik in the article I linked to above about the quanity of stolen goods and speculation about how long the illegal activities may have been ongoing.
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Recap of Public Meeting for 2nd & Mass Park

A reader from The Sonata shared highlights on the meeting minutes from the recent public meeting on August 19th regarding the issues surrounding the park at 2nd/Mass & H. This is the park that recently has been referred to as Cobbs Park…

Members of the Mt Vernon Triangle met earlier this week to discuss the safety/sanitation/crime/homelessness issues at the park located at 2nd & Mass NW (sometimes referred to as Cobb Park).  Elected Officials included representatives from CM Wells’s office, the Deputy Mayor’s office, and ANCs 6E04, 6E05 and 2C02.  ANC 6E07 Alfreda Judd (who represents the neighborhood in question) did not attend.

All invited city agencies sent representatives (DPR, DHS, DGS, DMH, MPD).   The television station WJLA, which has been following the story, sent a reporter to cover the meeting.

Residents complained about the increasing (and well publicized) incidents of public urination, defecation, sexual intercourse, prostitution, and general harassment in the area.  Some residents also expressed concern about the negative tone of email listservs / blogs regarding the homeless and reminded everyone in attendance that the neighborhood should not be trying to criminalize homelessness.

Commander Hickson of MPD-1D talked at length about the homelessness issue and the fact that 50+ arrests have been made in 30 days (most for minor offenses open containers of alcohol).

Key points from MPD:

  • He assured the neighborhood that no hard drugs are present – MPD is using undercover officers, surveillance.  The packets that are being exchanged are synthetic marijuana, which is a major problem in the city at the moment.

  • If an individual or a group is blocking the entrance of the building the Code states that officers have to give them the opportunity to come into compliance by issuing a verbal warning.  If subjects then move along, there are no arrests made.
  • Prostitution is a misdemeanor, but it has to be witnessed by the officer or an undercover officer.  DC does not designate “prostitution-free” zones with signs anymore because the Supreme Court ruled against NYC on a similar issue, costing the city millions.
  • Police can work with communities to combat prostitution through traffic enforcement.  For example, 2nd and K St. NE has no right turns after a certain time of day, which makes it harder for johns to circle the block.
  • Police are patrolling the park every 2 hours during the day and squad cars are clearing people out at night because the signs state “Park Closes at Dusk.”  Police cannot necessarily arrest people for being in the park at night; they must ask them to leave and can ban them from the park in the future.

Representatives from the Mayor’s office discussed long-term solutions to the homelessness crisis in DC (such as affordable housing initiatives), but none seemed to address the critical issue at hand (both for individuals in the park and residents in the area).

DPR wants MVT residents “to be present in our parks,” and “use them” to discourage undesirables.  That message, while laudable, seemed to fall on deaf ears for residents who fear for their personal safety and have experienced loud & aggressive harassment while walking in the vicinity.

The idea of creating a playground in the park was discouraged by DPR and had previously been considered and rejected by a parent’s group in the area due to the busy and complicated intersection of H and Mass.

Next Steps:

  1. Residents should continue to call 911 rather than 311; that is the only way the police can document actionable upticks and send the appropriate respons
  2. Mayor office to circle back to set up a progress report meeting, possibly by the September 17th MVSNA Meeting
  3. Commander Hickson wants residents to learn your Police Service Area (“PSA”), attend PSA meetings, get on listserve, get to know the Lt. responsible for our area
  4. Cdr Hickson offered the idea of a park clean-up; he will have officers on hand as escorts
  5. Create a “Friends of the Park” organization. Use the park- have movies, yoga,  community nights, and anything that establishes a community base in the park.
  6. ANC member requested a walk-through with DPR to clean up the park, fix crumbling concrete, paint, cleaning, etc and find budget to support a clean-up effort.
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Public meeting regarding issues at park at 2nd & Mass

Consternation over the safety/security/sanitation issues at the park at 2nd & Mass are ramping up exponentially since we first posted a note from a frustrated reader on July 25th. The downward spiral for the park was even recently highlighted in a WJLA TV news segment.

Residents of the Sonata condominium are rising to action with their concerns. They’ve scheduled a public meeting on Monday August 19th. The gathering will begin with a walk through of the park at 7pm followed by a meeting on the rooftop of 301 Massachusetts Ave NW.

Date: Monday, August 19th
Time: 7:00pm (walkthrough); 7:15pm meeting on roof at 301 Mass. We’ll meet outside the building at 7pm
Location: 301 Massachusetts Ave NW
Access: When you arrive, front desk personnel will assist with roof access.
Inclement Weather Location: TBD

Draft agenda for meeting is below:

I.   Root cause of the recent change
·         Homeless issue, crime issue, or both?
·         If caused by changes at CCNV or closure of Central Union Mission – what is the city’s plan?

II.  What has been done so far, and what more can the city do to help?
·         MPD / DPR / CM Wells/ MVTCID / Mayor’s office/ DMH
·         Results?

III.  What can residents and the community do to help?
·         “Friends of the Park” Organization
·         Landscaping/fencing/creation of a dog park or playground to give the public space a “purpose”
·         CCTV to observe illegal activity

IV.  Miscellaneous – open issues

V.  Recap/ Next Step

The meeting invitation was sent directly to the Mayor’s Office, DC Council, MPD, ANCs, local residents, MVTCID, and city agencies such as DPR, DMH, DHS, and APRA.

As an aside – is this park really named Cobbs park? Or is this just another case of a Google Maps label convincing everyone that’s the name? Which seems innocuous enough… but in the past I’ve seen Google Maps label parking lots as parks and even label the MarcParc parking lot at 6th & K as a hospital…

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Police Activity at Museum Square

As of 10AM this morning atleast a dozen police cars are surrounding Museum Square (401 K Street NW). The Mount Vernon Triangle CID passed along this note:

At this time, we know that someone had barricaded himself in the building, and a body is being carried out.

UPDATED [10/20/11 3:30PM]:
Final word is a male resident of Museum Square had a sword, held a hostage, and was taken into custody. No deaths reported.

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Shooting near Megabus Lot on Friday Night

megabusAs noted by the Prince of Petworth a shooting occurred Friday Night at 11:15pm at 1st and K Streets NW near the Megabus pickup/dropoff lot.

SHOOTING_2315 HOURS_1ST AND K ST NW_B/M 5’9″, ALL BLACK CLOTHING SKI MAKS; B/M ORANGE AND WHITE SHIRT DO NOT TAKE ACTION CALL 911

Last week the Washingtonian reported that Megabus is still in negotiations to move their operations to the parking deck at Union Station. Perhaps this incident will increase the sense of urgency.

Image Credit: Daquella manera

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Small Metro Safety Victory

Around DCThe DC metro, particularly the Chinatown and Metro Center stations have been recently plagued by iPhone/smartphone robberies. In most cases, the robber or robbers spot a metro passenger who is absentmindedly using their phone. The assailants then quickly snatch the phone from the passenger’s hands and escape through a closing train door, disappearing into the crowd as the passenger is left stunned on board the train (with no technology to find out when the next train is coming).

Fourteen DC Transit Police have been working on catching the robbers, a number of which are part of a group called The Swisha Splash Boys.  Recently, 24-year-old DC resident and alleged member of The Swisha Splash Boys, Terrence McNatt, was arrested and found guilty of two such robberies. To read more on The Swisha Splash Boys and how DC Transit Police were able to nab McNatt, see yesterday’s TBD article. Moral of this story is they’ve only caught one member of this group – hold your phones tight!

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