Round II - ANC7D01 Commissioner vs. KPRCG

Below is "Round II" of emails between ANC7D01 Commissioner Raglin and Bob Coomber, Kingman Park/Rosedale Community Garden (KPRCG) Co-coordinator. This is an ongoing debate in reference to the current conditions of the garden and how it impacts the surrounding neighbors and the Kingman Park and Rosedale communities.

Read all about "Round I" HERE.

Note: Emails have been reproduced in their entirety, italicized information has been added for reference.


Sent Date: Thursday, 12 Aug 2010

Dear Ms. Raglin:

Let me apologize again to the many individuals who are unnecessarily copied on this email - those whose charge does not include responsibility for ANC7D, Ward 7, or community gardens. I feel I must copy you on my responses to set the record straight.

Nothing I wrote in my previous email was false or misleading.

In the attached pictures from 2006(see photos below), a fence is visible, and it is visibly old; the fence was erected well before the Garden existed. The Garden members repaired this fence with like materials after part of it was destroyed by a stolen vehicle in 2008.

The District did not provide soil for the garden. A receipt from the soil company that delivered our soil is attached to this email.

Since you state that individuals have been gardening on the property since the early 90’s, it is unclear why you believe gardening today is a source of crime and disease. The area that contains the Garden has repeatedly been described by long time residents as I wrote in my previous email, i.e. as a parking lot and dumping ground during the 1990's and early 2000's. Many long time residents also described the area as a Victory Garden in the early 1940s (there was also a Victory Garden on Kingman Island, as you said).

The Rosedale Citizens Alliance was not cited for mosquito infestation last year. We conversed with DC DOH, rectified all issues they raised, and a citation was not issued. The area South of the Garden is not controlled by Garden members, and became overgrown with four-foot tall weeds this summer. Garden members and residents called to complain, and the District sent a clean up crew and fined the owner. The Garden plot would suffer a similar fate if we were to let it go to seed, as you apparently prefer. It would thus become a more pernicious breeding ground for mosquitoes and other critters. I am not denying that there are mosquitoes in the Garden; I am denying that the Garden is a worse source of mosquitoes than an overgrown, vacant lot or the large amounts of standing water that collects in the 2000 block of D St. NE each time it rains.

As for the name of the part of town in which we live and areas North and West, I attached image of a map from 1905 (see maps below) that identifies Rosedale as a neighborhood. Isherwood is also identified, but Kingman Park is not. Further, DC Municipal Regulations distinguish among Carver/Langston, Rosedale, and Kingman Park. See 10-A DC ADC § 813.6; 10-A DC ADC § 1508.13; 10-A DC ADC § 1509.9; and 10-A DC ADC § 1511.5.

If there are any complaints about a specific Garden plot (each are marked), please let me know, and I will ask the Gardener to clean it up. If they do not do so within 48 hours, I will do it myself.

The overwhelming majority of property owners adjacent to the Garden are supportive of, or participants in the Garden, according to polling we conducted last year. Many have participated in our annual cookout, and all were invited. The additional members of the Garden (save one) are residents of Kingman Park, and most are your constituents. They support the Garden too. Long time residents have also told me that the Garden property has not looked so nice in more than forty years. I believe I have provided more than enough information in this email and the previous email to satisfy your issues.


Bob Coomber

Sent Date: Monday, August 9, 2010

Dear Mr. Coomber and others:

This is an official response to your email dated July 30, 2010.

Your email did not address my concerns because your responses were false and misleading:

First, do not apologize to anyone for the emails I have sent as a D.C elected government official who represents the neighborhood. Who do you think you are?

Second, Unnessary Individuals: The DC City Council and department heads etc, ANC7D should be informed about issues in the neighborhood because their job involves input on community issues which ultimately affect our quality of life in the neighborhood. The concerns delineated about the "garden group" affect the whole community at large and the adjacent property owners in particular. It appears that you and your group continue to give the impression that you are knowledgeable about gardening when in fact your group is jeopardizing community health standards by violating city codes and regulations.

Third, Mr. Coomber, I see you moved into the former Jones family home within the last 2 years. As the coordinator, I am sure you are aware that the DC Dept of Health cited the Rosedale Citizens Alliance for mosquito infestation (live larvae in rain barrels) last year. I personally inspected the rain barrells last month (July 2010) and found the same violations were present: top and side spout opening had no screens. The CDC (U.S. Center for Disease Control) issued a health annoucement about mosquitoes and the spread of West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever coming up the East Coast. Therefore, it is imperative that these sources of infestation, which the DC Dept of Health says is there policy, be taken seriously and immediately addressed. In fact, one of your participants, complained to the DC Health Department last year because the mosquitos were proliferating out of control. She also sought medical attention for mosquito bites last year and wears protective gear for the mosquitos when she goes to the garden.

Another of your participant's husband (deceased 2003) and neighbor had gardens there for many years during the 1990's and early 2000. In addition to a garden, the lot has been used as a baseball field and playground. The Victory Garden you refer to was not on this field but on Kingman Island. Check your map for its location.

Fourth, FALSE FENCE INFORMATION: The fence around the garden was erected within the last 3 years (2007-2010). There has never been a fence around that lot since the houses were built between late 1930's and early 1940's. I can provide affadavits from many long-time neighbors, (30, 40 and 50 years) if and when necessary, that there was never a fence there before your group erected an illegal fence without a required government permit in 2007. In fact, I checked with DCRA and there has never been a permit issued for this vacant lot.

Fifth, despite all of your claims, this garden is a source of health and safety issues to the adjacent property owners. I have raised these issues with Councilmember Alexander. Why do people who do not live in the neighborhood come to this area to garden at all hours in the back of other people's homes? Could my neighbors and I garden in the back of homes on Capitol Hill? Hillcrest, Georgetown? Crestwood? What is your agenda? People moving in and around our homes are security risks. We are now experiencing more auto break-ins, robberies, bulgaries, and more suspcious and unknown people walking in the neighborhood, especially at nignt in the alleys, near the "garden". I have observed at 10:30pm, someone prowling in your garden. It is only a matter of time before homes will be broken into.

Sixth, CONTAMINATED SOIL: Neighbors obseverred a DC Government truck dump soil on the garden lot. A television news release in May 2010 reported that the dirt the District government had given to D.C. residents was contaminated above EPA levels. My concern is that the the contaminated soil with all its airborne contaminants, is a health hazard to this garden group, its children, adjacent property owners and the community. Who will be responsible for the health problems when they arise?

Please see the letter from the Kingman Park Civic Association regarding the University of Massachuetts Soil Report. I agree with the comments of the Civic Association.

Seventh, ATTRACTIVE NUISANCES: Rotting and rotten vegetables attract rodents and insects. If you are the coordinator, you are responsible for the overall condition of the garden, whether or not the plot participants maintain their plots. This garden needs to be cleaned-up. You can't have it both ways.

Finally, the Rosedale name is also misleading. The Kingman Park Community is legally recognized by the D.C. Federation of Civic association under the D.C. Charter as the official community name with its boundaries from M St NE at the U.S. Aboretum on the North, Bladenburg Road to 15th & East Capitol on the West, 15th & East Capitol Street on the South and the Anacostia River on the East. Rosedale is an area around the recreation center only. As a newcomer, your attempt to change the name of the community and desseminate false information is dishonest and further conveys that your garden group has disengenous motives.

I hope I have clarified these issues for you and if you have any more concerns, you can contact me.

Veronica Raglin
ANC 7D01


Ann said...

It's so sad when people want to hinder positive "change" in their neighborhoods. Obviously this land was a garden before, why doesn't this lady want it to be a garden now? Because it wasn't her idea?


Anonymous said...

Her response baffles me. "Who do you think you are?"... "What is your agenda?"

It's a freaking community garden!

Her hostility towards newcomers to the neighborhood is concerning. Would it have been better had I NOT purchased a former crackhouse near the community garden?

Ann said...

I know! I love how she refers to Bob Coomber's house as "the former Jones family home." She clearly can't get over the fact that newcomers are moving into the homes of people she knew.

And THEN, when those "newcomers" try to do such a thing as IMPROVE the community? Oh no!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Commissioner Raglin might read this, so I wanted to add this comment:

'Newcomers' to the area are interested in Rosedale's past-- respecting it, preserving it, and working with longer-term residents to form a future for Rosedale that is better for everyone.

All opinions should definitely be considered, but outright hostility towards people and families who have invested in Rosedale in the last five years is not helpful. I don't care if you've been in this neighborhood for 5 years or 50, us vs. them mentality is wrong, wrong, wrong.

MiCoBa said...

"Would it have been better had I NOT purchased a former crackhouse near the community garden?" It's comments like that that make long term community members leery of newcomers. Did you really buy a crack house? Or was it a house of someone who had fallen ill, needed to leave the area, abandoned the home for any multitude of reasons or didn't have the money to bling it out or desire to? Please be careful when calling a neighbor's old friends place a crack den.
What is unique about the rosedale/kingman park garden is that it serves washingtonians that live in two different wards, therefore has two different councilmembers and a plethora of ANCs. To me it seems obvious that the big concern Ms. Ragins has is that she doesn't like the idea of people not belonging to the neighborhood gardening in kingman park. It doesn't matter if Michelle Obama had organized this garden Ms. Ragins would have a problem with it if she suspected it was being used by people in Capitol Hill (or rosedale it seems) or people she thinks don't respect that it's behind a person's home and not a public park.
I don't know what is being done or can be done to address the issues of respecting quiet hours (is there a good reason to garden at night, is it even possible?) and more importantly who is allowed or should be allowed to use the garden. Go have a beer/tea/coffee summit and figure it out.
Unfortunately she doesn't trust, respect or care about Mr. Coomber's record keeping (which seems decent to me) and someone else is going to have to step in with some authority.

Logan said...

As one of the people who has spent years maintaining that land and garden, its honestly a little heartbreaking to encounter someone like Veronica Raglin. When we started cleaning up that land, there was SO MUCH TRASH strewn about. It was pretty much a dump-site for cars, building materials, drug paraphernalia, mattresses, pretty much anything you can imagine. We've sweated buckets mowing, pulling up weeds and invasive plants, constructing what is a really beautiful addition to an already great neighborhood. Unfortunately, all Ms. Raglin seems to see is "newcomers" entering her neighborhood uninvited. She really does seem to think, or at least tells people, that this is all some kind of plot to turn the land into a condo development. Its all quite baffling, and extremely disheartening.

MiBoCa, you make an excellent point about being respectful to folks that have lived in this neighborhood for many years. We do live in an aging neighborhood, and the people that used to take care of this garden can no longer do so. That's why its so troubling to get this kind of reaction from someone like Veronica. For the record though, this land is not in anyone's backyard. Its privately owned land that is far removed from anyone else's private property. And for the record, I'm one of those people that will occasionally stop by my plot after dark while walking my dogs to pick up a tomato or two. Perhaps I'm one of those "prowlers" Ms. Raglin is so concerned about.

Honestly, I think the presence of good-intentioned neighbors, EVEN AT NIGHT, helps keep crime down. Should we all just hide indoors once the sun goes down and cede our community to drug dealers, car thieves and gangs?

It's all twisted, sad logic. Hopefully she'll be voted out in the coming weeks and we can move on and build a more united community.