June 10, 2024 /
Christina Hester

Explore our Conservation Easement: Crispus Attucks Park

Board member of the Crispus Attucks Development Corporation, Will Gomaa, and his wife, Neela.

June is Land Conservation Month, and to celebrate, we at Casey Trees are highlighting a different one of our cherished conservation easements each week. This week, we turn our spotlight to Crispus Attucks Park, a green haven in the heart of Washington, DC’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. To provide deeper insight into this beloved space, we spoke with Will Gomaa, a long-time resident and active board member of the Crispus Attucks Development Corporation.

Crispus Attucks Park’s transformation is a testament to the power of community dedication. “The park that you see here is not what this space always used to be,” Will recalls. “Even 25 years ago, this was mostly covered with concrete and asphalt because this space used to be a telephone cable yard.” In the mid-1970s, the telephone company that owned the land donated it to the community, leading to a gradual yet impactful metamorphosis.

Near the turn of the century, local residents began reclaiming the space. “Folks who just lived around on the unit blocks of U and V, North Capitol Street, and First Street Northwest, they started ripping out the concrete, ripping out the asphalt, planting trees, planting some flowers,” Will explains. This grassroots effort eventually culminated in the vibrant park that stands today.

Will, who has lived in the area for 15 years, has witnessed the park’s increasing role in community life. “When we moved here, the park was used, but it wasn’t nearly used as much as it is now,” he says. The pandemic further emphasized the park’s importance as a safe, outdoor meeting place. “We had a lot of people come in 2020 and 2021, even more so than we had in the past.”

The park’s annual events have also evolved and expanded. “Every spring, we hold the Bloomingdale Community Day, which is both a large fundraiser for the park and the largest event that brings the neighborhood together,” Will notes. From humble beginnings as a community yard sale, the event now features local restaurants, a dog show, kids’ activities, live bands, and yoga sessions.

The park also serves as a venue for various community groups and events, fostering a sense of shared space and collaboration. One of the most striking aspects of Crispus Attucks Park is that it thrives purely on the efforts of local volunteers. “All the work that went into it, none of it was from city agencies or the federal government. It was all just neighbors volunteering their efforts,” Will emphasizes. This bottom-up approach not only created the park but continues to maintain it, ensuring it remains a green sanctuary for everyone.

Casey Trees plays a crucial role in preserving Crispus Attucks Park through a conservation easement. “Casey Trees holds a conservation easement on the land here, which is important because no matter what happens in the future to this space, we know that it’s going to be preserved as open space,” Will explains. This easement guarantees that the park will remain a community asset, protected from development.

Many of the park’s trees were donated by Casey Trees, underscoring our ongoing commitment to urban forestry. “There are our go-to now, of course, whenever we have needs,” says Will. The easement, established around 2014, has provided an additional layer of protection and support for the park’s continued success.

As we celebrate Land Conservation Month, Crispus Attucks Park stands as a shining example of what a community can achieve through dedication, collaboration, and a shared vision for a greener future. Community members can visit and experience firsthand the beauty and tranquility of a park born from the passion and hard work of its neighbors.

We invite you to join us in celebrating Land Conservation Month! Here are a few ways you can get involved: 

Join us for a Tree Care at Turkey Thicket Recreation Center! Help us care for young trees. Your help with weeding, mulching and watering these vulnerable trees will give them a leg up in becoming an important part of our growing tree canopy. We provide all the necessary tools and supplies to care for trees and participants will receive a short, hands-on training on site.

Consider making a donation to support our conservation initiatives at Buena Vista Terrace! By donating to the project, you will be contributing to the first phase of improvements by addressing the re-emerging invasive species and preparing the site for future phases. Elements currently in the final plans include an arbor portal to welcome visitors into the site, a remembrance wall for those lost to violence within the community, terraced seating, a multi-purpose platform with mural and chalk walls, storm water management, and various plantings to beautify the site.

Come out to Land Conservation Day at Hellbender Brewing Company! Join us on our conservation easement “Hellbender Hill” to celebrate all the benefits of protected green spaces. The fun will include tree tours, live music, raffles & games, BBQ food truck, Casey Trees merch, and an exclusive Casey Trees seasonal beer!

Together, we can make a lasting difference in preserving the natural beauty and ecological health of our city. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to protecting our greenspaces. Happy Land Conservation Month!