As discussed at length here at the Georgetown Metropolitan, over the winter the District entered into an agreement with the private Maret School for the school to renovate the dilapidated Jelleff sports fields in exchange for an easement granting the school exclusive rights to use the field during prime hours for a decade. Today, the Old Georgetown Board will be considering several design elements of the plan, including the proposed lighting and the fences.
GM expressed strong misgivings about the manner in which the District Department of Parks and Recreation entered into an agreement with Maret. It appeared to be, essentially, a sole source contract without a genuine public request for proposal and GM argued that the deal should be scrapped and reopened for bids. The ANC agreed.
While GM still is disappointed in all the parties involved in the crafting of this agreement, it’s a done deal and, frankly, it’s time to move on. The sooner the field is built, the sooner children can benefits from it and the new pool (and, not for nothing, the sooner Maret’s ten year easement extinguishes). In the meantime, GM is pleased to report that since the confrontational ANC meeting, Maret has reportedly been a good partner with the neighbors and the primary stakeholders in the field, including Stoddert Soccer, Hardy Middle School and the British School. And in defense of Maret, GM should say that he learned that while the agreement was being formed Maret reached out to CAG to include them but was essentially ignored. (If only it had somehow related to drunk Georgetown students maybe CAG could have been bothered to care).
So what will this field actually look like? The plans are here. As you can see, the entire field will be covered in artificial turf. It appears that the field will be marked for both soccer and baseball (and possibly lacrosse). Covering the entire field will benefit Stoddert in particular because they will be able to carve up the space into multiple small fields for their youth program.
One of the key sticking points over the original deal was lights. The agreement did not require Maret to build them, yet unless they were built, non-Maret users would be significantly affected since Maret has first dibs over a large percentage of the after-school daylight hours during the spring and the fall. GM was highly skeptical that lights would get approved even if Maret agreed to build them. Well, GM was just flat wrong. Maret and DPR have worked with the neighbors (S St. residents, Dumbarton Oaks, and the National Parks Service) and received the go ahead to build them at Maret’s expense. They just need approval from OGB today for the lights’ design. If approved, the lights will significantly improve the utility of the fields.
One final issue: Since this project is on the OGB calendar, the ANC was given a chance to weigh in during Monday night’s meeting. However, the ANC decided before the meeting not to consider the project and they moved it to the “no review” calendar. GM thought this was a mistake. Given the contentious manner in which the deal was formed, GM argued to the ANC that forcing DPR to come and simply discuss the plans would benefit the public and thus would be a worthwhile exercise. The ANC disagreed. They based their position on several factors: Maret has acted in good faith since the the Febraury ANC meeting, the neighbors and stake-holders are on board, the issues actually before OGB are not significant and OGB is better positioned to judge them, and finally, opening the discussion on the field would invite opening a discussion on the process of the deal, which was already talked to death in February. GM thinks these are fair points, but he still believes it would have been worth while to call DPR before the ANC to discuss the substance of the plan. GM and the ANC will just agree to disagree on this one.