Photo by Dsade.
If you follow GM on Twitter, you’ll know that he’s a bit of a soccer fan. And while not that many people get up early on the weekends like GM just to watch the English Premier League, a whole bunch of kids in DC (including plenty of Georgetown kids) participate in the wonderful Stoddert Soccer league.
Unfortunately, this year the program was dealt a blow from the city. As the Chairman of Stoddert Soccer, Nick Keenan, wrote the groups participants:
The fields Stoddert Soccer players have used for decades – were being systematically shut out on weekday afternoons. It must be a mistake, we thought, but when we contacted the Department of Parks and Recreation we were told that, no, it’s not a mistake. It’s policy.
As the Post’s Mike DeBonis wrote yesterday: “Keenan blames private schools — particularly the Lab School of Washington and the Edmund Burke School — who use city fields for their own sports teams. In his Web missive, he said ‘political considerations’ were at play.”
Georgetown has already seen an example of a private school getting a special deal for exclusive use of a public field. In that case, the posh Maret school convinced the Fenty administration to let the school turn the Jellef fields into a modern artificial turf field in exchange for the school getting exclusive use of the field during most of the prime hours for ten years. Other schools have bitten off rather large chunks of time for public fields without having contributed what Maret did. For instance, despite having plenty of fields of its own, Sidwell Friends (tuition $34,000) has exclusive use of the Hearst fields weekdays until 5 pm. Continue reading
As you may have read from the Current, the city recently entered into an agreement with the Maret School concerning the Jelleff sports fields. Much is unclear right now about the merit of the deal, however, what is clear is that the manner in which it was entered into is very alarming.
For those of you who don’t read the Current (which is the only newspaper covering this issue, and seriously, you really ought to read the Current) two weeks ago the city held a press conference at the Jelleff Branch of the Boys and Girls Club to announce the finalization of the $20 million agreement for the city to buy the club’s Georgetown property along with two other properties in the city. In a passing mention the Mayor disclosed that the city entered into a deal with the Maret School to fix up the Jelleff fields in exchange for giving the school semi-exclusive rights to use the fields. Carol Buckley of the Current diligently followed up on that point. Nikita Stewart of the Post, on the other hand, thought the most newsworthy element of the press conference was the Mayor’s opinion on Gilbert Arenas.
Here are the details of the plan as GM understands them:
- The Maret School will make improvements to the fields. These improvements will likely involve converting the entire field to artificial turf. This would allow maximum flexibility for the field’s use.
- Maret will spend up to $2.5 million although the memorandum of understanding between it and the city does not require any specific amount. The only requirements are that Maret construct an artificial turf field that accommodates baseball, soccer and lacrosse. The designs must be shared with, but not necessarily approved by, the Department of Parks and Recreation.
- Maret shall provide maintenance of the field.
- Maret will get semi-exclusive use of the fields.
- This exclusive use will last for ten years.
The Current has described the semi-exclusive hours generally, but the actual hours contained in the MOU are even more than the Current discussed. They are:
- All day (8:00AM – 4:00PM), seven days a week for the last two weeks of August.
- 3:30 – 5:30 every weekday during the fall and spring (that’s September through mid-November, and March through mid-May respectively).
- On Wednesdays they get the fields starting at 2:00 over that same time period.
- Five full Saturdays each fall and spring (the MOU doesn’t give hours for the Saturdays) Continue reading
The Washington Post is reporting that the Boys and Girls Club is going to close several branches in the D.C. area, including Georgetown’s Jellef Branch, right next to Social Safeway. The organization is severely struggling to ensure its long term financial future and has identified for elimination the branches with the fewest members. What this means to the neighborhood after the jump: