Can a great recreation center that serves the wider community and a great school coexist happily side by side? We certainly hope so. We have been following the overhaul of the Turkey Thicket playground over the last few months. With the city issuing a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the Turkey Thicket playground improvements on January 3rd, the project seemed imminent. However, adjacent to Turkey Thicket is the old Brookland Elementary School, that the DC Department of General Services (DSG) is going to tear down this year to build a new school – the Brookland Middle School. Right now, the DGS and DC Public Schools (DCPS) are in the concept phase for the design and construction of the school. As part of this exercise, they, along with the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), are considering creating a joint property out of Turkey Thicket and the school property. Clearly, Turkey Thicket has many assets: the swimming pool, 90′ diamond baseball field, basketball court, gymnasium, multipurpose rooms, playground, and tennis courts. All of these would be huge assets to attract students to the school. But what about the needs of the wider community? At this point, it is not entirely clear what the consequences of this joint property concept are. How would this concept affect the community’s access to this much-needed, and used, recreation center? How will this plan, if enacted, affect the plans in place for the playground overhaul? The middle school is supposed to house 300 – 600 students. What is the plan to deal with parking and additional traffic? Bottom line: will this mean a loss of neighborhood amenities or a chance for us to get expanded and better facilities?
DGS, DCPS and DPR are seeking community feedback on this co-location idea at a meeting called by ANC Commissioner Jenese Jones (of the 5B05 SMD) on Tuesday February 26th, 6:30 at Turkey Thicket. This decision will have a large and lasting impact on the quality of life in our neighborhood and the attractiveness of Brookland to potential new neighbors, so I encourage folks to come out and discuss what the implications are. Perhaps I am too optimistic, but I see the potential for win-win here, but we all know that only squeaky wheels get (and in this case, keep) the grease. Turkey Thicket Recreation Center is located at 1100 Michigan Avenue, NE.