Neighborhood Watch: Ward 8 Gets New Library, Wants to Give It Back
The Issue: The latest brush-up in the library turf wars is in Ward 8. In September, City Desk reported that some residents were unhappy with the new Washington Highlands Library’s futuristic pod design. The plan is still to raze the old library on 115 Atlantic St. SW and replace it with the new design in 2011. But some are making a last ditch effort to save the old library. They argue that the D.C. Public Library (DCPL) went ahead and closed it before the neighborhood had a chance to have its say. With Ward 8 having one of the lowest literacy rates in the District and only one full-service library—why are neighbors complaining about a spanking new building?
Save It! Some say that renovation is more eco-friendly and the money saved from renovating the building—about $2 million—could be used to expand services and hours. Last Saturday, about 40 Ward 8 residents rallied in front of the library to save the building, and four out of the five Ward 8 advisory commissions have passed unanimous resolutions for renovation. Ward 1C ANC Commissioner Chris Otten told City Desk: “The library moved quickly to close, even though [DCPL] doesn’t have the raze permit yet, or neighborhood support. The building is going to sit empty for months now.” In the meantime, he says, the neighborhood will lose valuable community meeting space because of the interim library’s small size. Ward 8E Commissioner Karlene Armstead feels DCPL closed the library without community consent: “Everything DCPL told us they were going to do has been lies, trickery, and deceit.”
Raze It! (And We’ll Give You a New One!): The $9.5 million library, designed by renowned British architect David Adjaye, will include a “garden, study rooms, new computers and an outdoor amphitheater." DCPL spokesman George Williams says the neighborhood was notified about the building closure through outreach at that library, media notices, and DCPL’s Web site. As far as the raze permit goes, he says it is up to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to notify the ANC. He added that there is will be community meeting space opened up at Hadley Hospital and the new library will have a meeting room that accommodates 100.
Next Step: The new interim library will open around the corner at 4035 South Capitol St. SW on Dec. 21; the raze permit is currently sitting with DCRA.
Note: This post initially included a different version of the design rendering; the one above is the most current. Drawing plan courtesy of DCPL.