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Bruce-Monroe won't stay a park, might not be a school

As the Washington City Paper reported, DC released an RFP to redevelop the former Bruce-Monroe school site on July 26th. The RFP could lead to a new school on the site, but also opens up the possibility of other uses that fund school improvements off site.

The stated long-term goal of the property has been to build a new Bruce-Monroe school, yet significant obstacles—most notably money and the economic climate—have prevented this to date. The option of modernizing the historic Park View school, where Bruce-Monroe students currently attend, has met with significant resistance from some of the parents and teachers at the school.

Proposed site plan for Bruce-Monroe. Image from DMPED.

Recognizing that it could be five years before shovel hits dirt, city officials decided to develop an interim use for the property. Their initial approach was to spend $500,000 on an area parking lot. This idea also met with fierce community opposition, ultimately resulting in a commitment of $2M to create a community park.

The interim park is scheduled to open on July 29th, and already includes sod, some trees, two basketball courts, a tennis court, two tot-lots with playground equipment and a small parking lot. A building is to be built in the second phase of the project to support educational programs.

Interim park site plan. Image from DMPED.

The high price tag for the park led some to speculate that DC might keep it as a park permanently, but this RFP makes it clear the park isn't permanent. On the other hand, it's possible it won't become a school again, either.

Though the RFP clearly has the educational needs of the community as a priority, developers have the option to submit proposals that don't include a new school as well as ones that do. In the event that a winning proposal is focus primarily on the commercial aspect of the property, the RFP states that funds generated from the conveyance of the property to the developer would be used to "fund school improvement at the off-site Bruce Monroe Elementary School at Parkview."

This clearly brings the modernization of the Park View school back into the mix. This is significant since a renovated Park View has been rejected by approximately 30 to 40 of the parents of the 414 students who attended the school this year.

Its impossible to see which way this issue will go until proposals start to roll in. Its certainly possible that a new school will arise on the site of the old. Yet, each twist and turn seems to include an additional challenge for that vision.

Those interested in reading the full RFP, as well as the contents of the four appendices, can do so by going to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development's Web site.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest primarily within the District. He's worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He's been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and is the force behind the blog Park View, D.C.


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Anyone know why this group of parents is against school modernization?

by chris on Jul 30, 2010 12:25 pm • linkreport

Still think dc is spending way too much money on this park. Some astro turf and a bball court would have done the trick.
As for the modernization of Park View. Why do the parents get a say anyway? how do less than 10 percent of the parents opposing a modernization have any pull? The school belongs to the residents present and FUTURE. These parents won't even have children there in 5 years. Where as the younger generation of families moving to Park View would likely be all for it.

by Anon on Jul 30, 2010 12:28 pm • linkreport

In good journalism fashion, it would be good to give a little more identifying info as to location. It would be nice to have a sense of where this is, if only cross streets.

by Tioqueso on Jul 30, 2010 2:56 pm • linkreport

SW Corner of Georgia and Irving.

by chris on Jul 30, 2010 2:59 pm • linkreport

Any word on whether charter schools have expressed interest? The current Administration has been quite hostile to charter schools, preferring to push vacant properties onto private developers instead.

by Ward 1 Guy on Jul 30, 2010 3:25 pm • linkreport

I'd much prefer to see no school there. It could be a very nice anchor site for lower Georgia, and is planned to someday be an intersection of two streetcar lines.

by jcm on Jul 30, 2010 3:38 pm • linkreport

Also, the interim park budget was $1.5M, not $2M.

by jcm on Jul 30, 2010 3:40 pm • linkreport

Where are other schools in the area located and how has that effected students & parents who live around there ?

by kk on Jul 30, 2010 5:30 pm • linkreport

It's very odd to have an elementary school located on such a busy thoroughfare. I hope at least some retail makes it through the redevelopment process. As far as I know, the parents who oppose modernization of Park View are probably the same ones who opposed tearing down the aging school in the first place. Change isn't always popular, but if it's opposed by a minority of parents, then they should be ignored. Hopefully the interim park opens up people's eyes to what else could be possible with the site.

by Omar on Jul 31, 2010 3:55 pm • linkreport

This park should become permanent. I live nearby and there's a serious lack of park space in the area. As a compromise maybe half the lot could remain parkland and the other half be developed?

by Scott F on Aug 1, 2010 8:14 am • linkreport

I think the park is so beautiful. I hope it stays that way. It looks so much better than what was there.

by jean on Aug 2, 2010 3:45 pm • linkreport

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