Housing Complex

Bruce Monroe to Become Basketball Courts. After That, Who Knows?

Poof! Gone!

Poof! Gone!

If you walked by Georgia Avenue and Irving Street last Friday, you would have seen a large, abandoned school building. A day later, it was reduced to rubble.

Two months ago, the site of Bruce Monroe Elementary was slated to become a parking lot until the city found a way to rebuild the school. But neighbors protested, and now, Ward 1 planner Tarek Bolden tells Housing Complex, the city will build two basketball courts, a tennis court, a large green space and community garden, and a “tot lot.” (A final design should be available next week.) The Mayor’s office confirms that they’re rushing to get it done before the summer, which depends on finding a contractor. And, we heard last night, Mayor Adrian Fenty may have secured funding to start a basketball league—hence the second court–which would be consistent with his favoritism for athletes.

It’s all part of an experiment in “temporary urbanism” that saves demolished sites in the time between uses. The city is kicking in half a million dollars to avoid creating just another three acres of asphalt. But it may also be less of a constant eyesore reminding neighbors that there still isn’t a school there: Chancellor Michelle Rhee has made no commitment to actually rebuild Bruce Monroe, says Brian DeBose, spokesman for Councilmember Jim Graham. There was $20 million set aside in last year’s budget, and DeBose says he expects it will remain in the 2011 budget—but a new building will cost around $30 million, and the school would be looking for a private-sector partner to help.

Sounds like nearby parents may have yet longer to wait.

  • Bruce Monroe Neighbor

    Glad to see this story getting some much-needed media attention. The District's proposal thus far contains more questions than answers.

    A few that come to mind:

    How will security work on the interim site, given that multiple homicides have taken place on school grounds in years past and there was a shooting last week?

    What kind of soil will comprise the community garden space? Raised beds or flat ground? If the gardeners are to grow food, who will pay for soil testing? For irrigation, given that no water hook-up exists?

    What opportunities exist to try to secure more funding?

  • Lydia DePillis

    Hi Neighbor,

    Good questions. I can answer at least part of your first, from another tidbit I picked up: There will be a hefty fence around the area, which will cost a full $200,000 of the $500,000 allocated. If your other questions aren't answered with the release of the final plans next week, I'll inquire.



  • Blue Pen

    Oh how DPR sucks. Why didn't they just keep it as a school?

  • http://rickmangus@aol.com Rick Mangus

    Once this park is built I hope that the city put a lockable fence around the place to lock it up after dark and keep the low life thugs and drug dealers out!

  • Jane

    A commuter parking lot for doctors and nurses at the hospital would have been SO much better. I would have much rather had doctors and nurses on the premises than the thugs who will come out day or night to play basketball, curse, drink beer and fight. If it had been a commuter parking lot there would have been an evening attendant. Now there will be no one watching the property at night. SIGH

  • Bruce Monroe Neighbor

    @Jane: That parking lot was the wrong idea on so many levels. First, you have the stormwater pollution from a giant paved surface and the air pollution and extra traffic on Irving Street from all of the additional cars. Secondly, what exactly do you think would have kept the same people you're concerned about off the lot at night? Not the single attendant who would be working only during the day, right?

    At least the basketball courts on the new layout will be visible and accessible from Georgia Avenue, not up high and in the dark where nobody can see them at night.

    And I agree with Rick about the need for a good fence.

  • Maria Flores

    So much money was put into that building (BM); After five years of parents' demonstrations and fights they did some renovations; $3 millions to renovate one pod, $1 million from Target for the new library, $1 million on new windows, and for what? to demolish the building after one year? What a waste! Children First! I don't think so.