Crowds, Noise Discussed at Permitting Meeting
A "Community Meeting on Francis Field Permitting" was organized by ANC-2A Commissioner Nicole Goldin, and held on May 9, in response to residents' complaints about "blaring music" and large crowds of "social sports" teams on the field.
The meeting became a frank discussion about field rules and regulations by representatives of the sports leagues, residents who live closest to the field, and Seth Shapiro, the head of the permit office at the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR).
Photographs and slides to support the individual residents' case were shown by Friends of Francis Field (FFF).
Shown above is a detail of a photo taken on Sunday, April 28, 2019. It was one of several presented to demonstrate that the crowds on the field greatly exceed the "Capacity 50" which is given in DPR's listing for permit applications for Francis Field. The field is located in what is an increasingly residential neighborhood.
It was pointed out that if two professional NFL football teams played on the field, there would be no more that 22 pairs of cleated shoes on the field at one time during a three-hour game (not including the referees).
The two major issues raised by residents were, 1) the bad condition of the field by what is believed to be "overpremmiting and under maintenance," as an ANC-2A resolution of less than a year ago put it; and 2) noise complaints from residents due to boombox music during permitted games, although "amplified sound" is not permitted without written consent from DPR.
Photos of several deep holes were also presented to show the dangerous hazards that now exist for all field users.
On the issue of boombox music, DPR's Shapiro said that playing music was generally not considered the use of "amplified sound" unless it was disturbing someone. Recordings made by residents were played from an iPad. Three residents stated that the levels were quite loud and disturbing to them.
In June 2018, after last year's spring permitting season, similar complaints were presented to ANC-2A, which passed a unanimous resolution requesting DPR to address noise, limit crowd size, and review the balance between the maintenance of field and its heavy use. The resolution was sent to Keith Anderson, who was then the DPR director, with a copy to permit chief Shapiro.
At the May 9, 2019, permitting meeting called by Commissioner Goldin, no votes were taken by the ANC and no decisions were reached or announced by DPR. The residents and sports team members agreed to make an effort to understand the issues on both sides.
In the meantime, FFF's nascent Grounds Committee will see if the dangerous holes in the field can be fixed by reporting them through the DC government process. It is not DPR that contracts for field maintenance, but the Department of General Services (DGS). In January 2019, former DPR Director Anderson was appointed the director of DGS. The acting director of DPR is now Delano Hunter.
The contractor paid to maintain the athletic field portion of Francis Field continues to be Fort Myer Construction, according to the current DGS contract.
Rebecca Coder (1969-2018) Honored at Library
A plaque for Rebecca Coder, the first president of the Friends of Francis Field (FFF), and later an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for the West End, was installed on the Wall of Honor at the West End Library on Saturday, May 11.
The nomination was made by the West End Library Friends to the District of Columbia Board of Library Trustees in July 2018, two months after Rebecca's death at the age of 49. Co-sponsoring the nomination were five other organizations.
(The nomination letter and resolution by the Library Trustees is included on this website.)
Susan Haignt, president of the Library Friends, arranged a ceremony preceding the installation of the plaque. She was one of the four speakers who remembered Rebecca and her work. The others were Jack Evans, District Councilmember for Ward 2; Patrick Kennedy, vice-chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A; and Gary Griffith, president of Friends of Francis Field.
Members of Rebecca's family who attended were Chris Haspel, her husband of 21 years; her sister-in law Kay Haspel; her brother Joshua Coder; and her sister-in-law Cecilia Coder.
A group of more than 30 attended the ceremony, including several former commissioners of ANC-2A; members of the Foggy Bottom West End Village, which Rebecca helped to found; and members of FFF.
Councilmember Evans said during his remarks that a memorial plaque for Rebecca will also be placed on Francis Field.
The placing of the memorial plaque on Francis Field may require Council-initiated legislation. Thus, Evans' announcement that it would be done was reassuring.
An obituary of Rebecca Coder, who died on May 1, 2018, is also included on this website.
Annual Membership Meeting Report, 2019
Friends of Francis Field (FFF) held its Annual Membership Meeting on April 24, 2019, in the new lobby lounge of 2501 M Street NW. As in past years, the evening meeting was part social and part business, with a slide presentation of the group's past year and plans for the year ahead.
The photo below, titled "Redbuds in Bloom, Francis Field, April 2019" was used on this year's invitation to members. The meeting was open to all, and the lounge was filled nearly to capacity, with a count of 32 members and guess when the business part of the meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm.
The guest speaker this year was Nicole Goldin, the newly elected member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2A (ANC-2A). She now represents the single-member district in which Francis Field is located. This was her first FFF meeting.
A "Meet and Greet" social session began at 6:30, with Beth Monroe serving as this year's chair of the Hospitality Committee.
Laura Belt, Chair of the 2019 Annual Meeting, delivered a slide presentation of current field conditions, which have deteriorated since last year, when the effects of the experimental 2017 "greeting project" (see separate article) restored the turf and vegetation to its best condition in two decades.
"There is now a huge disconnect between disproportionate use and lack of maintenance,” she said.
She also reported that although ANC-2A had passed a resolution in support of the new master landscape plan on February 21 (see separate article), the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) had not yet approved it.
DPR, had however, sent FFF on April 15 a draft of a partnership renewal through September 2020, which, she said, the FFF Board was currently reviewing.
The only official business conducted at this year's annual meeting, as is traditional, was the election of members of the FFF Board of Directors by the membership. Directors James O'Connell and Gary Griffith, whose previous terms were expiring, were each nominated for another three-year term. Voting was by ballot, and both nominees were re-elected.
The meeting was adjourned on time at 8:00 pm. Many members and guests remained for additional social time in the bar area of the 2501 M residents' lounge.
For information on membership, see the About page on this website.