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METRO, Parks & Recreation, feel heat from Ellington School community

METRO, Parks & Recreation, feel heat from Ellington School community

Ellington Field

Metrobus

Two issues that could adversely affect Duke Ellington School of the Arts and its community members are facing vociferous opposition from concerned parties. Changes proposed by Metrobus could eliminate vital bus service for Ellington students and Georgetown residents, while a Department of Parks and Recreation proposed change could threaten public access to Ellington Field.

“Eliminating the bus routes will have a significant negative impact on our school community,” senior class president Sydney Forrester Wilson said earlier this month at Metro’s board meeting. “We have to ask – do you know that we exist, and we are dependent on these buses?”

WMATA has put 22 bus lines on the chopping block – including the D1, D2 30 and 37 – claiming the routes are inefficient or redundant. Ellington draws students from each of the city’s eight wards, and the nearest Metrorail station is almost two miles away.

“There’s no alternative but to take the bus,” Wilson said. She wasn’t the only speaker who noted the area’s dependency Metrobus. “It’s a neighborhood that needs its buses and it’s a neighborhood that loves it buses,” said Rev. Rachel Landers Vaagenes of Georgetown Presbyterian Church.

Campaigns are underway to save the threatened routes. A WMATA representative is scheduled to appear for a 7 p.m. meeting at Stoddert Elementary School on Feb. 13. Petitions can be signed at www.anc3b.org/saveourbuses.

Also, WMATA will hold another public hearing at its headquarters (600 5th Street NW) at 1 p.m. on Feb. 24. Attendance is open and signing up isn’t necessary. Anyone interested in speaking will be given two minutes.

DPR takeover set for Ellington Field

More than 100 individuals gathered at Georgetown Library earlier this month for a meeting with officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation, DC Public Schools, and the Department of General Services, regarding the future of Ellington Field.

The crowd expressed its frustration and opposition to DCPS transferring management to DPR, expected to become official after the public comment period ends on Feb. 12.

“This is a field that obviously has many demands,” Deputy Mayor of Education Paul Kihn told the audience. “It’s got community demands, it’s got school demands, and we’re trying to resolve a number of different challenges related to the various demands and various uses of the field.”

Ellington School currently has priority for the field, using it for physical education classes and marching band practice. The Georgetown University track and field team has practiced there regularly since 2005, when the university paid for refurbishments that included a 320-meter track.

Under the new arrangement, according to DPR, Ellington, Hardy Middle School and School Without Walls would have priority access to the field, and the Hoyas’ non-exclusive use contract would remain in place until it ends in 2023. Some opponents of the transfer expressed skepticism about DPR, which last year quietly gave a private school priority access to the Jellef Recreation Center during the school year through 2029.

“Unfortunately, many don’t fully trust DPR after a 10-year renewal agreement with Maret for exclusive primetime use of Jelleff field this summer was signed without full transparency,”ANC-2E01 Commissioner Kishan Putta said at the meeting.

DPR said it will hold additional public meetings but does not foresee the transfer being delayed. “DPR will permit and manage the field under the regulations during hours not scheduled by public schools,” said the agency’s chief of external affairs, Tommie L. Jones Jr., adding that a permitting process also will be established.