Home » Outdoors, Environment » Lake Artemesia Update: Rental Kayaks, Open Restrooms, and some Sad Plant Choices

Lake Artemesia Update: Rental Kayaks, Open Restrooms, and some Sad Plant Choices

This week, with the extreme heat, I’ve been heading out at 6 a.m. for a walk before it gets unbearable. I’ve visited Lake Artemesia twice and I have news (at least it was news to me.)

Walking past this newish work-out spot I stopped in my tracks – kayak rentals now available? Self-service?
And just a few feet away is this (hopefully) wondrous new invention called self-service kayaks!Amazing! And definitely something I want to do! Who’s with me? Here’s the little beach for getting the kayaks in the water.

This lovely gazebo has had major work done on it this last year; looks finished, except for this little planting bed. I’ll be watching to see what’s planted there.

Public rest rooms – they’re kinda essential!

Just after Thanksgiving I visited the lake and was surprised and disappointed to see this sign on the door of the women’s room. Really? Are they always close for winter, and why? The rest rooms at Greenbelt Lake are open all winter, right?

This sign seems to indicate this is a regular practice, as the text on the map says “Restrooms Seasonal.”

But without porta-potties of some type, what are visitors to do? Go in the woods? That’s not safe for people, vegetation or wildlife. Not to mention that the park becomes inaccessible for many people during that period. (And this lake, unlike Greenbelt Lake, has a wheelchair-accessible path around it, so except for the restroom problem, it’s the most accessible in the area.)

I’m one of the many (I’m sure) who avoided Lake Artemesia all winter and I was none too happy to find the same damn sign on the door in mid-April when I returned. Except this time there were angry comments written on the sign.

I asked a maintenance worker about the problem and was told that repairs were needed to the plumbing. Okay.

So I fired off emails of complaint to the three promising addresses I found on the website of Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning, which manages Lake Artemesia. No response.

Then I happened to attend Maryland Day on the UMD campus and when I saw a booth for that very agency, I practically RAN to ask who I could talk to about a problem. A young man listened intently and promised to raise the issue with someone above him.

Well! I’m just going to assume that that conversation had something to do with the porta-potties I saw there the next week and the major dig I found going on around the rest rooms the week after.

Call it complaining or, to use that wonderful term that John Lewis made famous, making “good trouble,” but I’m passing this story along to inspire other complainers/makers of good trouble. No harm trying, right?

Murals on the restrooms at Lake Artemesia.

Speaking of restrooms, look what I found on the walls of the ones at Lake Artemesia! Which reminds me of more good trouble I’d like to see made in Old Greenbelt – beautifying our iconic but now-unsightly underpasses with murals. If even this utilitarian public restroom can have nice art, why can’t our public square?

Note that these artworks are mounted on the walls, not painted directly on them, and I wonder if there’s an advantage to that.

Some Sad Landscaping

Here’s another pretty gazebo that’s seen some repairs lately, including giving it a ramp for accessibility, which is a good thing. But oy, the plant selection – crispy little annual begonias, little butterfly bushes and St. John’s Wort shrubs. Sure, nothing’s going to look great right away but except for the St. John’s Wort, the plants here give me no hope for this site.

And I’m going to assume those are the sterile, noninvasive type of butterfly bushes because especially in a park setting, they MUST be, right?

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog weekly at GardenRant.com.

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