By Emely Miranda-Aguilar 

A Smiling Seahorse in the playground at Berwyn Park
The park’s smiling seahorse and other playground equipment
Photo credit: Paul Ruffins

On Nov. 16, Berwyn Neighborhood Park gained a new set of “parents” to nurture and protect it. That was the day the Berwyn District Civic Association (BDCA) voted unanimously to adopt the triangular park between Pontiac and 49th avenues, along the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail.    

Residents had been pressing for upgrades to the park since July, and the county parks department responded, planting some 30 new trees and mulching and fertilizing trees already there. The parks department also installed a picnic table and replaced an old sidewalk by the playground with a new asphalt ramp. The maintenance crew also altered how they cut the grass to stay away from young trees. In the past, some saplings had accidentally been mowed down.

“In the three years that I’ve been here, I’ve noticed an increasing interest in protecting the tree canopy and ensuring that the neighborhood continues to be known for its trees,” said Alec Lynde, who serves as the BDCA’s information technology director. 

Marina Dullnig, whose home faces the park, has been actively involved in its upkeep for years. She has planted a number of trees — indeed, so many that this past summer a park employee advised her to get authorization first, if she wanted to plant more. Dullnig recently said she was startled that anyone would object to her volunteering her time and effort.

Kyle Lowe, who is the assistant division chief of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission’s Natural and Historic Resources Division, works to promote volunteering in local parks. Reflecting on the relationship between park staff and the neighborhood,  he said, “I think it started a little rocky, but I think we found our footing, got to the same place, and worked through that.” 

After residents first met with the M-NCPPC this summer, park officials suggested that the neighborhood could adopt the park. This involves overseeing beautification and environmental projects and keeping the county staff informed about what the park needs. The officials  recommended Dullnig as the perfect person to adopt the park, but she declined.

The BDCA board was eager for the organization to adopt the park. They hosted a neighborhood meeting to get input from more residents and put the idea up for a vote. Members suggested establishing a parks and open spaces subcommittee to oversee the adoption process. BDCA established the subcommittee, with Lynde as chair, to “serve as a liaison between members and the many other stakeholders that support and maintain [Berwyn’s] parks and open spaces.”

“I’m glad they did it,” Dullnig said. “They expanded their priorities from just the park to a couple of other grassy areas with vegetation, which will probably make the neighborhood better-taken care of.”

According to Lowe, a sign will be posted in front of the park announcing that the BDCA has adopted it, and a park ranger from the county parks department will be a point person for the BDCA.

BDCA’s parks and open spaces subcommittee aims to facilitate conversations about Berwyn’s other green spaces, as well. The group is considering a number of projects, including improving the open space at the intersection of Roanoke Place and 51st Avenue, establishing permaculture gardens, and educating residents about opportunities to increase the neighborhood’s tree canopy.