Monday night’s marathon Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting was one of the most contentious in recent memory, with most of the meetings devoted to a controversial Department of Parks and Recreation agreement with the private Maret School for developing a new artificial surface and pool at Jelleff Field, located on 3625 S Street NW.
But first, other orders of business: Apart from the controversial Jelleff Field matter, the ANC passed a resolution expressing its support for renewing a five-year moratorium on liquor licenses in Georgetown, meaning no new liquor stores will open in the neighborhood.
The Commissioners also briefly reflected on Philly Pizza and Grill, noting in passing that they expect it “to be taken care of” on February 9, when the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustment convenes to make a decision about Philly P’s appeal of the revocation of its license, which Philly Pizza very well may lose.
Georgetown is also set to lose three stoplights. After a successful experiment to see if a four-way stop would be as effective as a stoplight in controlling traffic using blinking red lights, the Department of Transportation will replace those stoplights—at 33rd and Q Street, 34th and Q Street, and 34th and Reservoir—with stop signs.
Jelleff Field: In what appears to be an increasing hallmark of the Fenty administration, the DPR agreement was characterized by its utter lack of transparency, occurring with neither competitive bidding nor community input.
Just two weeks ago, Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) disclosed in a press conference that the deal with the Maret School would grant the private institution exclusive use of the new field from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekday afternoon for the next two ten years. In exchange, the Maret School will be installing a $2.5 million upgrade to the facilities.
The agreement had slipped entirely under the radar of the ANC, so the tension was palpable as representatives from several community organizations took the floor before an unusually packed audience.
Perhaps most notable response was a representative from the organization Friends of Jelleff, which according to its website, is “dedicated to ensuring the continuity of the Jelleff Boys and Girls Club as a community resource.”
“I know you think you can buy daylight, but let this see the light of day,” he declared. “The best hours of the day were taken by the children of Maret,”
A woman who identified herself as a mother of two students attending public school echoed the frustration at the total lack of transparency in handing out the contract.
“I don’t expect private contracting of public property to be worked out in a non-transparent manner and I think that’s what’s happening here and I object to that,” she said to a loud applause.
Ultimately the ANC finally settled on a resolution that expressed its hope that DPR and Maret School negotiate to void the existing agreement.
“These agreements…were entered into behind closed doors, without meaningful attempts by DPR to solicit community input or engage in a more competitive process,” the resolution read.
Despite the forceful language of the resolution, ANC Commissioner Bill Skelsey summed up the frustrating reality of the situation—bitterly apparent throughout the two-hour display of public rage.
“In any event, we’re just sending a message. Our actions have no teeth.”
Additional reporting by Mark Waterman
Photo from Flickr user dianaschnuth used under a Creative Commons license.