Decision Time – DGS Needs Your Input On The Location Of The New Brookland Middle School

We have covered the debate over the location of the new Brookland Middle School extensively here, here and here. On Saturday morning the DC Department of General Services (DSG) presented the final four options for the location of the middle school to a highly engaged crowd of over 100 residents. (See the presentation here.) While there are still a lot of valid questions as to why, some decisions have been made and DGS made it clear that they are not going to entertain revisiting them. These are:

  • The school will be built by summer 2014 to house 540 Ward 5 middle school students
  • It will be built somewhere on the property where Turkey Thicket and the now defunct Brookland Elementary school resides
  • Thanks toWard 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie , and you, the 280 people who signed our petition, the option of co-locating the Middle School and Turkey Thicket is off the table. Yay!

Here is where you come in. The DGS will be making their decision on the site location for the school in the next two weeks. If you want to voice your opinion on this decision – you have one week to do so. DGS is asking that the community email Darrell Pressley, their press secretary, at darrell(dot)pressley(at)dc(dot)gov, to give your feedback on what you think the best option is. One thing to note, DGS representative Kenny Diggs stated at the meeting that the project budget will be the heaviest weighted criteria for the decision at a factor of 70% of the decision.  So we decided to post the options from most expensive to least expensive. The project budget is $50 million, with $38 million for construction and the rest for “soft costs” like equipment, utility fees, etc. As far as we can tell, the only option that will not require an increase to the project budget is the last option listed here. (Full disclosure – in our opinion, there weren’t enough details provided to make a fully informed decision, so these pros and cons are ours alone based on what we have gathered. Click on the diagrams for an enlarged view.)

South Plan TT BMS

What we are calling it: School at south end of the property. Perhaps, just perhaps, this may be the best for all residents overall because it is near commercial property instead of houses, but we are wondering what happened to the drop off/pick up zone that was included in earlier versions of this idea, in the way of a “new” street alongside the school. Maybe that whole lotta above-ground parking lot will be used as a defacto pickup/drop off zone?

Pros: Allows the different populations to have their own space, school parking lot may be able to be used by the community, closest to the Metro.

Cons: Most expensive, playground plans will have to be reconfigured and looks squished in (perhaps due to the above ground parking by the school), and all outside amenities like the tennis courts will be closed during construction, less green space, 10th Street NE traffic issues.

TT BMS Stand alone option

What we are calling it:  Quasi Co-locationish. We are wondering if this option won’t pose a lot of the same issues co-location brought up. Meh.

Pros: Gives the middle schoolers better access to amenities and it looks like the school has a nice sized footprint. We are assuming this option comes with underground parking since we don’t see any new above-ground parking lots.

Cons: Second most expensive, less green space, the palyground will have to be reconfigured and all outside amenities like the tennis courts will be closed during construction, serious 10th Street NE traffic issues.


Expanded BMS Site

 What we are calling it:  Expanded Footprint. This option keeps the school on the footprint of the current Brookland Elementary School but expands it a bit to the west and adds an above ground parking lot. The presentation says there is “no drop-off to offset street traffic” on Michigan avenue, although there is something depicted with an arrow that looks like a pick-up/drop off zone, and we wonder if the parking lot to the west of the school won’t be used as a de facto pick-up/drop off zone anyway.

Pros: Gives the different populations their own spaces, the school (we hope) will have the adequate space needed to accommodate the student body.

Cons: Third most expensive, less green space, playground plan will have to be reconfigured and all outside amenities like the tennis courts will be closed during construction, although with less of an impact than the previous two options. We are assuming there will be no underground parking since an above-ground parking lot is added. May result in the loss of two tennis courts.

Current Footprint BMS

 What we are calling it:  Existing Footprint. This option keeps the school on the footprint of the current Brookland Elementary School and adds an above ground parking lot. This is the only plan that is projected to stay within budget.

Pros: The playground will go ahead as planned, there will be a drop off/pick up zone in the “drive” that runs alongside the back of the school, no construction related closures to Turkey Thicket or the grounds.

Cons: Increased traffic on Shepherd Street, we wonder if this provides adequate space for the 540 middle schoolers, and enough parking.

10 thoughts on “Decision Time – DGS Needs Your Input On The Location Of The New Brookland Middle School”

  1. Even though city officials are saying co-location is off the table, it seems to me that building a new middle school adjacent to Turkey Thicket Rec Center inherently assumes that the the middle school students will in some way be using the recreational facilities at Turkey Thicket (i.e., the field and possibly the gym and/or pool). Isn’t this actually a form of “co-location”?

    I think the community needs to continue to press city officials to be more specific about exactly what they foresee as the relationship between this new middle school and the recreational facilities at Turkey Thicket. Maybe the buildings won’t be merged, but the school and the rec center are still adjacent to one another under all existing plans.

  2. As a resident of Brookland who lives on Shepherd St (just across the street from the two ‘least expensive’ options), I am extremely concerned about the lack of thought put as to how traffic will greatly increase on this small residential street, and the safety of the small children living on and around the area.
    Moreover, DGS stated on Saturday’s meeting that traffic studies will NOT be done until after the final plan has been chosen. I find this to be unacceptable.
    Finally, I believe that the Turkey Thicket grounds as a whole are not ideal for a 550 student capacity middle school, which very well may take over the grounds and the rec center as a whole from the residents, even though it is not going to be physically ‘co-located’.
    Again, DGS was unable to tell us exactly why other locations were taken out of the discussion, and why Turkey Thicket is the only and best local (I seriously doubt that it is, and think that we can disuade DGS/DCPS and the mayor’s office from placing a middle school here if enough of us get together).
    But as for the options, I personally feel that the South Side location is by the far the best if this has to happen.
    If you want to express your opinion as a group, another resident has created a survey; please fill it out at the following link:
    Best to you all

  3. How a bout option 4 but with the building extending over where the parking lot now is. You then build a a parking deck with the basket ball courts on top.

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