If you walked by Georgia Avenue and Irving Street last Friday, you would have seen a large, abandoned school building. A day later, it was reduced to rubble.
Two months ago, the site of Bruce Monroe Elementary was slated to become a parking lot until the city found a way to rebuild the school. But neighbors protested, and now, Ward 1 planner Tarek Bolden tells Housing Complex, the city will build two basketball courts, a tennis court, a large green space and community garden, and a “tot lot.” (A final design should be available next week.) The Mayor’s office confirms that they’re rushing to get it done before the summer, which depends on finding a contractor. And, we heard last night, Mayor Adrian Fenty may have secured funding to start a basketball league—hence the second court—which would be consistent with his favoritism for athletes.
It’s all part of an experiment in “temporary urbanism” that saves demolished sites in the time between uses. The city is kicking in half a million dollars to avoid creating just another three acres of asphalt. But it may also be less of a constant eyesore reminding neighbors that there still isn’t a school there: Chancellor Michelle Rhee has made no commitment to actually rebuild Bruce Monroe, says Brian DeBose, spokesman for Councilmember Jim Graham. There was $20 million set aside in last year’s budget, and DeBose says he expects it will remain in the 2011 budget—but a new building will cost around $30 million, and the school would be looking for a private-sector partner to help.
Sounds like nearby parents may have yet longer to wait.