Many Brooklanders are following the ins and outs of the new Brookland Middle School closely, as it will have a pretty big impact on our neighborhood. You may recall that there was a big kerfuffle in the February/March timeframe, when the site of the new school was being selected. When the school site (which will be the footprint of the existing and vacant Brookland Elementary school) was announced in April things seemed to really quiet down – till now. The latest round of neighborhood consternation was stirred up at a construction update meeting held by the Department of General Services (DGS) and DC Public Schools (DCPS) on Tuesday, September 24th. Because of the issues raised at that meeting , DGS made an unscheduled appearance at the ANC 5B meeting the following night to continue the discussion. First off, a quick update. The design of the school is complete, the interior of the existing school has been demolished and the building itself will be razed soon. DGS released this super-nice video that brings the design to life. I was really impressed! This school looks bright, modern, and a great place to learn. I think the building itself is a vast improvement over what we have now.
Also, for reference, here is the slide show that DGS presented at the 9/24/2013 meeting.
So, what’s the controversy? Well, it turns out that like most construction projects, unknown factors pop up and threaten to throw off the schedule. In this case, a huge unknown turned out to be a gas pipe that needs to be moved. The school is slated to open in August 2014; and school openings are an “all or nothing” affair – you really can’t expect to open successfully months into the school year. Because of this, DGS is requesting Extended Work Hours Permits so that the project can stay on track. How extended? According to the presentation, from 5:00 am – 12:00 am (midnight) for the October 16 – Dec 31 timeframe. As you can imagine, asking immediate neighbors to endure two and a half months of construction noise with only 5 quiet hours a day is a tough sell. In addition, DGS is also requesting 24 hours-a-day construction permits for interior work from January 1 – August 14th 2014. Here is a video of Kenny Diggs from DGS discussing the pipe issue at the ANC 5B meeting that took place Wednesday 9/25/2013.
Residents were given the opportunity to ask questions and vent a bit in the following two videos.
So what is next in this process? DGS is looking to engage with immediate neighbors of the construction site, which they are calling the “envelope group”. The next meeting with the envelope group to discuss the extended hours and other issues will be on October 9th at 6pm. There will also be another meeting for the general public in December. If you are interested in learning more about the school there is lots of information here, at the DC Public Schools website. Any questions for DGS should be directed to Kenny Diggs at kenneth(dot)diggs(at) dc(dot)gov.