Interim Use of Bruce-Monroe Meeting Draws Vocal Community

Parents, Teachers, and Students from Bruce-Monroe @ Park View giving voice to their Cause

The meeting at the Cesar Chavez Public Charter School tonight (3/8/10) was scheduled to primarily look at the interim use of the old Bruce-Monroe school site with a focus on temporary urbanism. However, attendees could tell early on that this was not going to be the only focus of the meeting.

Well before the scheduled start time of 6:30 p.m., parents, teachers, and students of the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school started filing into the room with banners, picket signs, and plastic cups taped together with stones inside to make noise. They were angry, they were frustrated, and they were vocal.

Representatives from the Bruce-Monroe @ Park View school were in full force

When the meeting finally began at 6:49 p.m., representatives of the school were given the chance to speak. In short, they made it clear that an interim use of the site is unacceptable. They want a school, and they want it by 2011.

While it is easy to understand where the representatives of the school are coming from, it was frustrating to hear the District representatives questioned on why a school hasn’t started to be built when charter schools are moving forward and a new CVS is being constructed — projects that are not funded by the city the way public schools are.

A cacophony of chanting broke out time and again, frequently being “Build our school.” Early attempts to start talking about the interim use of the site were disrupted by frustrated attendees that wanted to see the school move forward.

While eventually Ward 1 Community Planner Tarek Bolden was able to make his presentation, it was an uneasy peace that allowed him to move forward.

The Bruce-Monroe site with zoning areas indicated

The 120,000 square foot Bruce-Monroe site is divided into eight areas and zoned for two different uses. The 150 foot deep strip along Georgia Avenue is Zoned C-2-A.

C-2-A is designed to provide facilities for shopping and business needs, housing, and mixed uses for large segments of the District of Columbia outside of the central core. They are located in low and medium density residential areas with access to main highways or rapid transit stops, and are intended to include office employment centers, shopping centers, and medium-bulk mixed use centers.

The remainder of the site is zoned R-4, which is designed to include those areas now developed primarily with row dwellings, but within which there have been a substantial number of conversions of the dwellings into dwellings for two or more families.

While the zoning will not impact the future school since schools can be built anywhere, it could have an impact on the interim use. Activities that generate a profit cannot be located within the R-4 area but could be located withing the C-2-A area. This would include farmers markets, even if only operated on an interim basis.

The goal of the presentation was to get the community thinking. It was explained that there were four primary functions that the site could be used for and what the Office of Planning needed to know was what functions the community deemed paramount at this time. What the functions would be will be the subject of a future meeting.

The identified functions were;

  1. Arts related: public sculpture, an art park, etc. (represented by red dots)
  2. Open spaces: open air markets, grassy areas, etc. (represented by green dots)
  3. Community & Education: the land use for educational and community purposes (represented by blue dots)
  4. Recreation: basketball, volleyball, tennis, etc. (represented by yellow dots)

After the presentation of the key functions, every attendee was given three dots of each color and asked to place them on one of the maps of the site in the room. The maps were collected and will be compared. The dominant functions as indicated by the community will help guide the City in which types of interim development ultimately get chosen.

The next meeting on the Bruce-Monroe site is currently scheduled for early April.

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2 Comments on “Interim Use of Bruce-Monroe Meeting Draws Vocal Community”

  1. DB Says:

    There are not enough kids in our neighborhood to justify the number of schools here. Building another at the old Bruce Monroe site would be foolish.

  2. W Jordan Says:

    The CVS represents a very poor result from the development process and the government subsidized this unnecessarily poor result to the tune of $2M. It is not a good example of what Georgia Ave. should be looking for in the process.

    In a discussion I had with a rep for the 21st Century Fund and a study they did, there are enough children to support another school.


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