The InTowner
To receive free monthly notices advising of the availability of each new PDF issue, simply send an email request to and include name, postal mailing address and phone number. This information will not be shared with any other lists or entities.

Advertisement

Marie Reed School Modernization Addressed in Fully Detailed Community and ANC-1C Vision Statement Sent to DC Agencies, Architects

Accompanying images can be viewed in the May 2015 issue PDF

By Anthony L. Harvey

The Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s (ANC) well-advertised April 20th special meeting in the family room of the Marie Reed Elementary School drew a capacity crowd of ANC commissioners, DC public school and health center administrators, teachers and education specialists, leaders of neighborhood citizen associations, parents — some with their young children in tow — and community activists, many of them users of facilities and services at Marie Reed, including those provided by the District’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

The meeting was convened to allow the Commission to hear comments and reactions to a 20-page draft resolution entitled “Marie Reed: A Vision for its Renewal” — widely circulated in English and, through DC Public Schools in Spanish for elementary school Spanish=speaking households throughout Adams Morgan — and electronically accessible via the Adams Morgan/Yahoo listserv and on the ANC’s website.

The draft resolution was the result of a series of community meetings and open forums conducted by the ANC and Marie Reed’s Principal Katie Lundgren beginning in the late fall of 2014 and continuing through the first four months of 2015. The ANC convened six open forums and consensus sessions, including a walk-through of the entire Marie Reed Learning Center “to gain first-hand insights on the infrastructure and to hear from teachers, administrators, and health and human services staff.”

Additionally, Principal Lundgren conducted two open forums in November 2014 and April 2015 focused on the generation of parent and teacher feedback. Also contributing to the creation of the draft resolution were materials prepared for the Mayor’s budget forum in March 2015, data compiled by several community groups, including survey data from the grass-roots “Envision Adams Morgan” process for defining needs and preferences of the neighborhood — a process led by the ANC and the DC Office of Planning — and the monthly meetings of the Marie Reed School Improvement Team.

Parallel work by city agencies was another vital part of this process according to the overview of the ANC resolution document, especially planning reports and specification documents organized and prepared by the District’s Department of General Services (DGS), the Office of Planning, and the District of Columbia Public Schools. Also important to the community was the gaining of an “understanding of DGS progress and planning to both conduct a feasibility study and select an architectural firm to produce conceptual designs.”

These efforts resulted in an amended and unanimously adopted resolution at the April 20th special meeting of the ANC. A model of clarity and concision, the document is prefaced by a vision statement for the school and the community and then followed by seven separate sections dealing with the following subjects: “Architecture and Site Design; Green Building and Site Considerations; Dislocation During Construction; Our Elementary School; Our Recreational Facilities; Our Health and Human Services; and a Proposal for a Branch Library.”

After reflection on the movement in the 1960s and 1970s to create this visionary learning center, complete with athletic and recreational facilities together with healthcare services, community theater, and senior citizen and other activities, a number of which have fallen into disuse, the overview observations are set out as follows:

“Many decades later, Marie Reed continues to fulfill many aspects of that vision;

“Over 400 elementary students get their starts in life each year;

“Over 4,000 individuals get health and human services each year;

“Annually, many thousands of people use recreation services spread over the site, from the community pool to the soccer field to the tennis and basketball courts;

“Numerous cultural events are held each year at the site, from movie nights to craft fairs to craft classes.”

The need to either renovate or rebuild this aging, dilapidated and awkwardly designed structure –- ill-suited for the very visionary, co-located array of individual and interrelated services it has offered over the last 40 years — is well known for the many reasons outlined in the ANC resolution’s seven sections. The fascinating and full text of the Marie Reed resolution is accessible on the ANC’s website; it is informative and illustrative of the careful thought of hundreds of Adams Morgan residents and Marie Reed stakeholders — captured in exemplary prose by a dedicated ANC.

The document’s short and pithy concluding section regarding the community’s support for a neighborhood branch library reflects a long-felt recognition that Adams Morgan, together with its immediately surrounding neighborhoods, is one of the most — if not the most — underserved (or not served) library “deserts” in the entire District. The ANC resolution text concludes its overview paragraph on this matter with the following statement: “The one suggestion that has been overwhelmingly made by community members that would entail an entirely new facility is the proposal to have a branch library on the Marie Reed Campus.”

This is followed by the ingenious proposal that the architectural planners for the new Marie Reed “conceptualize space on the campus for a future branch library. The geography should be such,” the ANC continues, “that when eventually built, the branch library would feel like it was always intended to be part of the campus.”

In addition to its availability electronically, the ANC resolution has been forwarded to the Adams Morgan community’s Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, DGS and its selected architects Quinn Evans, DC Public Schools, the other District agencies with services, and service providers at the Marie Reed Learning Center, and to such potential new providers as the DC Public Library.

Within the next month or so, the ANC expects Quinn Evans to provide to the community for its feedback schematics for two to four alternative versions of a new Marie Reed campus — from draft plans for a renovation of the existing campus or an adaptive re-use of all or parts of the present structure to that of the construction of a brand new campus. DGS and the architects have tentatively projected a goal of the week following the July 4th holiday weekend for the community being able to deliver its recommendation for a preferred solution to the modernization project.

In speaking with The InTowner on May 5th, ANC Chair Billy Simpson expressed his and the ANC’s intent to publish by the forthcoming weekend on the Adams Morgan/Yahoo listserv and the ANC website a preliminary version of a schedule for the months ahead, one focusing on a new round of special ANC and Marie Reed forums to gather community input for DGS and the architects.