Did Posh Maret School Get a Sweetheart Deal From D.C.?
Allow LL to direct your attention to Jelleff Branch Boys & Girls Club in upper Georgetown. The Current has done some (offline) reporting on this story, and the Georgetown Metropolitan follows up with an excellent post today.
As you may recall, last spring the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington announced that due to financial pressures, they would have to close four branches. City officials scrambled to arrange a bailout; a deal was cut in June and closed last week in which the city is paying the Boys & Girls Clubs $20 million for three facilities, including Jelleff.
OK, fair enough: The city has an interest in maintaining programs and sees these clubs as a good use of taxpayer money. But Jelleff is also subject to another deal. City agencies have also inked an agreement with the posh Maret School in Woodley Park. Under that deal, Maret would spend up to $2.5 million to renovate the Jelleff facilities–installing an artificial turf field to replace the current mudbowl—in exchange for more-or-less exclusive access thereto for 10 years.
What's potentially wrong with this?
Well, Maret was already using the Jelleff field but they weren't the only ones—both the British School of Washington and Stoddert Soccer are frequent users. And there seems to be no indication that there was any sort of competitive process at work here.
As Georgetown Metropolitan puts it, "this was essentially a sole source contract." Perhaps the city got a got deal from Maret, but perhaps not. Perhaps the city and the facilities' users would have been better served by a different arrangement. Who knows?
As it stands, this looks to be another instance of the Fenty Doctrine: Do it. Do it now. Delay is weakness.
Another good point raised by GM: "[A]rtificial turf is normally only good for about ten years. By the time Maret's easement expires, the fields will need to be replaced again. The primary beneficiary of Maret's spending will be Maret itself....But in the end we just don't know what the best choice for us would be since the deal was struck in complete secrecy without any public notice or opportunity to comment."
LL will be following up.