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The Department of Parks and Recreation hasn’t taken over administrative control of Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ athletic field—yet.
Originally slated to happen on Dec. 14, which was the date the minimum 30-day comment period was set to expire, DPR has extended it another 30 business days to Feb. 12. Tommie Jones, DPR’s chief of external affairs, announced the decision Wednesday in an email addressed to the ANC 2E commissioners.
Jones also added that DPR plans to host a community meeting the week of Jan. 13.
At a recent ANC 2E meeting, parents, school leaders, and residents expressed anger and confusion at the rushed process. Several attendees implored DPR chief of staff Ely Ross to allow for more time before the transfer.
“I asked for three things at the ANC meeting,” ANC 2E01 Commissioner Kishan Putta tells City Paper. “I asked for a big public meeting, I asked for an extension that the transfer wouldn’t happen until after the meeting, and I asked for written assurances of the promises they were making verbally, such as no private partnerships on this field … I’ve gotten two out of the three things so far.”
Ellington high school students, the Georgetown University track teams, and local residents share use of the field, which is currently controlled by DC Public Schools.
DPR has argued that it will be better able to maintain the field and also increase community access. The Burleith Citizens Association has expressed concerns that any renovations or additions to the field will cause more traffic and issues with parking in the neighborhood.
Ross said at the ANC meeting that DPR would prioritize the field for three local public schools, Ellington, Hardy Middle School, and School Without Walls, but the department has yet to put any of their plans or visions for the field in writing.
“They keep saying they want to do the transfer first before consulting options [for the field],” Putta says, “but the neighborhood would like to understand their vision. I’m glad [DPR has] listened thus far, but we need written assurances.”