Tamara Blair, a longtime Kingman Park resident, wrote the following opinion in regards to the potential historic designation for her neighborhood. A hearing will take place on Thursday, January 25, at 9 a.m., to weigh in on the historic status. If you wish to support Kingman Park residents in opposing the historic status, fill out their survey by clicking on this link. –María Helena Carey
The potential designation of Kingman Park as another historic district, of the dozens that exist, will likely have devastating impact on the residents. For a moment, let us not focus on vinyl framed windows, steel encased doors, nor color of paint.
What really matters is the hundreds of residents who currently occupy the homes. They are more important than the structures themselves. These are the people who make the community of today. Current Kingman Park residents were able to prevent the community garden from falling into the hands of developers. In 2018, the homes of these socially conscious residents are in jeopardy of being subjected to unwanted historic designation.
Some residents purchased decades ago intending to retire here in the District, while other residents fled to the suburbs for riding mowers, two-car garages, and shopping malls. The latter gave up on city life and moved to Maryland, but can potentially decide the fate of this neighboorhood where 90% of those surveyed in recent months oppose historic designation.
A young working couple on 21st Street moved to Kingman Park in 2009. In a few years they grew to a lively family of four, with a dog. The family grew to include twins –to everyone’s surprise– presenting them with urgent need for live-in help. The homes in Kingman Park are not comparable in size to the towering brownstone types found in other neighborhoods. Their 1940s rowhouse was a household of two which suddenly needed to accommodate seven people and a dog in less than seven years.
This young family is the Coombers. They were only able to remain in Kingman Park because of the ability to enlarge their home, a solution that Bob Coomber believes certainly would be prohibited in a historic district. Kingman Park is a better place to live because of the positive contributions this family has made and they continue to exhibit a commitment far beyond the average resident. (Note: Robert Coomber is a commissioner for ANC 7D01)
Designating Kingman Park as historic would leave families like this no choice except to leave the neighborhood, as their families needs change over time. When asked about the prospect historic designation against the will of the residents, Bob Coomber said, “I have great appreciation for people who have strong sentimental feelings towards our neighborhood’s past. I cannot justify supporting a historic district when I have to balance sentiment against the risk of displacing Kingman Park families that are faced with a similar issue that we were; plus, the additional costs for maintaining houses could force residents on fixed incomes –especially seniors– out of the neighborhood.”
I am a recently retired resident who purchased my home in the 1980s. I decided Kingman Park was the best place to retire and did so in 2011. Re-entering the job market after retiring looms as a necessity for residents like me who never fathomed the idea of Kingman Park as a historic district. The additional expenses with regard to upkeep of the exterior of my home can have a negative impact on the retirement life I worked hard to secure.