One reason for the healthy population of older Cleveland Park residents is that the neighborhood appeals to a wide variety of age groups and so residents don’t feel that they need to move. “You can stay here and age,” said Susie Taylor, president of the local citizens association, who moved to the neighborhood 32 years ago and raised two children there. “As my needs have changed over my adult life, everything I need I can find here in Cleveland Park,” she said.
The neighborhood’s housing stock is diverse. Within the boundaries set by the citizens association in the mid-1960s, Cleveland Park consists of about 2,500 to 3,000 single-family homes, duplexes, and condominium and rental apartments, Taylor said. “Other boundaries set since then — for example, the new aging-in-place village — are broader,” she said.
Aging residents who begin to find living alone a challenge will soon be able to find support from the neighborhood-created Cleveland Park Village. The Village, already classified as a nonprofit in the District, is now applying for a 501(c)(3) status and is also working on its Web site, scheduled for launch in the fall.
The goal of the Village is to aid people who don’t need assisted living but may need a little help to remain in their homes as they age. Volunteers will provide rides to the grocery store or doctor’s office, organize occasional dinners and social outings, and screen vendors for an approved-vendor list. Members will pay a small annual fee for the service.
Identifying a need and then working toward a solution is nothing new for Cleveland Park residents. “Cleveland Park has a long history of citizen activism,” Taylor said. For example, in 1953 the Citizens Association’s initiatives and fundraising effort led to the establishment of the Cleveland Park branch of the D.C. Public Library.
Community residents were also the force behind the creation of two large public green spaces: the Tregaron Conservancy and the Rosedale Conservancy. The Tregaron Conservancy includes a dog park that neighbors pay a small fee to join.
Rosedale Conservancy, a three-acre park two blocks long and half a block wide on Newark Street, was part of a six-acre property at risk of being purchased by a developer in 2001. Neighbors came together to raise a total of $12 million to match the bid and create the park — which is protected from future development by a conservation easement — in 2002.
Jonathan Abram and Eleni Constantine, owners of the adjacent Rosedale Farmhouse, which is believed to be the oldest residence in the city, were instrumental in organizing the effort.