Location: At the end of 7th Street, in the Shadow of Ellington
Size of Park: Medium Large
Approximate Age of Patrons: I was the only person there
Topics of Conversation: "Who was Fred Douglas and why does Metro Parks hate him?"
Stray Dogs Seen: None
Types of Vehicles in Parking Lots: Mine
Perceived Safety: Low
Number of Gunshots Heard: None
Dog Friendliness: Low, unless you like fleas and ticks
Number of pitbulls sighted: Mine
Accessibility: There's not really anything to access, except poison ivy
Incorporation of Local History: Low
Recommended Patrons: People who hate parks and people who hate poor Fred Douglas and like to see his good name ruined by a crappy park
First, in at least half the park, the grass has not been mowed in ... I don't even know. It's longer than my grass, and my grass hasn't been mowed in two-and-a-half weeks. So it's been at least that long. Parts were taller than my dog. I think it's been a month.
It's so long that it's actually dangerous to walk. The park gently slopes towards the (embarrassingly crappy) ball field, but you can't tell where and how steep the slope is because it's covered in knee-high grass.
And the ball field. Sweet Jesus, the ball field. Cooperstown weeps.
I have been to Metro parks in this town with scorer's boxes and bathrooms and shaded dugouts and concession stands. For dugouts, Fred Douglas Park has four sagging 2x12s screwed to some rejected plumbing. The "concessions" are a water fountain I couldn't get to work. I hope no one actually plays there. They'd be taking their lives in their hands sitting on those benches.
"Build it and they will come," nothing. If a Kevin Costner character dreamed up this sorry excuse for a ball field, it must have been the nutjob serial killer from Mr. Brooks.
I tried to cheer myself up by going over to the playground up the street. But even that looks faded and neglected.
The only redeeming thing this park has going for it right now is one awesome old tree. I hesitate to even mention it, though. The park seems so purposefully bad that I'm sure if someone discovers there's even one pleasant thing left, they'll go set it on fire or something.
I honestly don't understand how this park could be as fucked as it is. It's a great size. If it were maintained, kids could kick soccer balls, play baseball, toss a football. There's plenty of room for putting in a basketball court or tennis courts or both while still leaving a lot of open greenspace. Under the trees, you could have picnic tables. You could put in a nice loop for walking.
Yes, the neighborhood is sketchy. And yes, this park is adjacent to public housing. But it's also an easy walk from that new building where Allium is, and a quick drive through that neighborhood shows that it's gentrifying. For every threesome of teenage boys standing on their porch looking shifty, we saw a lone woman walking her dog.
Plus it's not like poor people don't go to the park and don't deserve parks you can walk through without having to worry about losing your 2-year-old in the tall grass.
I tried to discern which councilman is responsible for the park, but I'm still not sure. It looks like it's either right inside District 6 or split between 5 and 6. I suspect it may be split between 5 and 6, but that's just because I'm looking for a reason why half the park would be mowed and half not.
Might they be mowing the park in Jamie Hollin's district and leaving the part in Mike Jameson's district overgrown?
I don't know. But either way, I would like to encourage Hollin and Jameson to work together. Hollin has the technical savvy so that he and Jameson could set up a program that called Metro Parks once a day:
Hi, this is Councilman Jameson and Councilman Hollin. We're calling to inquire about Fred Douglas Park. Is it still a shitty hell-hole of neglect instead of the neighborhood gem it deserves to be? Press one for 'Yes.' Press two for 'No."
There's no incorporation of local history, so who even knows who poor Fred Douglas was? The Headstart right across the street is "Frederick Douglass" and I stood there thinking, "Oh, lord, please don't tell me they mean 'great man of U.S. history Frederick Douglass' and they have misspelled his name?!" But the park is so close to Douglas Avenue that I can't help but wonder if that's not the connection.
Anyway, this should and could be a great park. I know it flooded in May, so I respect that any modifications and upgrades would have to be made with flooding in mind.
But we could start out by mowing the whole thing so it's actually usable. That shouldn't be too much to ask.
UPDATE: I now have poison ivy. Thanks, Fred Douglas Park!