One of the names of the schools targeted for closure by DCPS will jump out at anyone following the city’s streetcar battles: Spingarn High School. The District Department of Transportation is planning to build a streetcar barn and training facility on the Ward 5 school’s campus, over fierce objections from some neighbors. There are two main lines of opposition to the facility: on historic preservation grounds—-the Kingman Park Civic Association has filed to have the school and its grounds landmarked—-and on safety grounds, since children from the school will be in the vicinity of the arriving and departing streetcars.
So how would the school’s closure affect plans for the streetcar barn there? According to DDOT’s Dara Ward, not so much.
From a preservation standpoint, the closure of the school wouldn’t really change anything, she says. “Well, the building will still be there, and this doesn’t change anything with regard to the historic designation finding, because it’s really tied to the building,” Ward says. “DDOT’s moving forward with our plans.”
And from a safety perspective, things don’t change much either, Ward says, given that Phelps High School is “still a stone’s throw away.”
The slight complication is that DDOT was pitching the training facility to the community as an opportunity for the Spingarn kids to gain some work experience and life skills. But Ward says the basic plans remain in place, with or without Spingarn.
“We’re still going to use it as a training center,” Ward explains. “We’re currently working through a memorandum of understanding with DCPS. And that’s through DCPS, not necessarily tied to Spingarn.” She says DDOT’s also working with the University of the District of Columbia on an adult education program there.
But of course, one can never be sure what arguments will materialize, even in a post-Spingarn scenario. (The school is targeted to close before the 2013-14 school year.)
“It’s really hard for us to anticipate for those who are opposed, how is this going to affect their opinion one way or another,” Ward says.
Rendering from the Historic Preservation Review Board’s review of the site