THE DISTRICT OF Columbia is spending nearly $400,000 to fix up a park in our backyard in Chevy Chase, D.C. That's certainly kind of the city, but it also happens to be a waste of money at a time when the D.C. government is not exactly rolling in the stuff.

Plans to redo our park date back seven or more years when, apparently, the city was flush. A committee was formed -- area residents, housewives, business executives and others -- and given authority to draw up plans.

Until 1975, however, none of the committee's members, to the best of my knowledge, lived adjacent to the park. That's when we moved onto Quesada Street, bordering the park, and I became a member of the modernization committee.

I was not exactly a popular member. I didn't think the park had to be "modernized." I certainly didn't think we had to spend $400,000 or so when all the park really needed was a little sprucing up, a little repair here and there. I told the committee we ought to say thanks but no thanks to our city fathers.

They called me a Republican. I was outvoted. After all, who ever turned down $400,000 of someone else's money?

So the construction crews arrived and the work began:

New fences around the four tennis courts and resurfacing them, too; paddle tennis courts, shuffleboard and horseshoe pits; picnic tables and even a new toddlers' playground to be built on asphalt, (though, with a few minor repairs, the one old could have lasted another 30 years); a gazebo: fancy lights to be strung in the trees that the construction crew don't chop down; "modern" playground equipment that will eliminate the need of children to use their imaginations. The list goes on.

On rainy days, when the construction crews don't work, I think about what the District might do with that $400,000. My list is long, as I am sure anybody's would be. There's no shortage of urgent needs in this city.

Maybe I shouldn't worry about it. Just enjoy my new gazebo and horseshoe pits and tennis courts. But I do worry. Please, city government, don't be so nice to me.