Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E passed a resolution urging District of Columbia government agencies to prioritize student access to Duke Ellington Recreational Field on Feb. 3.
The resolution comes after the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation announced it would take over management of the field from District of Columbia Public Schools in July. The plan sparked concerns that community members and public school students could be excluded from using the field.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, establishes three principles that those managing the field should follow, regardless of which agency eventually manages the field. ANC 2E Commissioner Kishan Putta, whose district includes Ellington Field, introduced the resolution.
First, field access should be primarily reserved for students, according to the resolution, which was read aloud at the Feb. 3 meeting by ANC 2E Chair Rick Murphy.
“Public School students and in particular, students of, in no particular order, Hardy Middle School, School Without Walls, Duke Ellington and Hyde-Addison Elementary School should have first priority access to the field,” the resolution reads. “Specifically, no agreements should be entered into with any non-public organization that would deny or reduce access to the field to DCPS students for school related activities.”
The second principle calls on the Washington, D.C. government to allocate adequate funds for general field upkeep. Additionally, the resolution asks officials to draw up a usage plan for public review.
Lastly, the plan should address local concerns that the field transfer would bring increased traffic and new lighting fixtures to the neighborhood, according to the resolution.
“Before any significant decisions concerning the management and future use of Ellington Field are made, there should be a proposed usage plan available for public review, including traffic, environmental and light studies and active outreach to and discussions with residents and schools who may be impacted by the usage plan and the residents and schools used should be given great way,” the resolution reads.
Georgetown University holds a contract that grants the varsity track and field team access to Ellington Field and has been coordinating with local government agencies to address the transfer, according to Christopher Murphy, vice president for Government Relations and Community Engagement.
“The university’s track and field program has a non-exclusive right to use the track at Ellington Field for certain hours,” Christopher Murphy wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The university is working closely on the matter with ANC 2E, the Burleith Citizens Association, and DPR. We are hopeful that neighborhood and city leaders can negotiate a solution that is acceptable to both the community and DPR. And we are working with both to ensure that whatever is decided our right to use the track is honored.”
In September, DPR granted the Maret School, a private day school in Northwest D.C., exclusive access to Jelleff Field, a recreational space in the Georgetown area. The field allocations drew similar concerns that public school students’ field use would be limited. Residents fear the Ellington field transfer may exclude some community members from using the space if DPR grants exclusive usage rights.
Sparse communication from the D.C. government has left students, parents and community members confused how field access will change with the potential transfer, according to Valerie Jablow, a parent of a student at Duke Ellington and a member of the school’s PTO.
“Because DPR and DME have refused to release the terms of the agreement of the transfer to the public before the transfer occurs, the public is expected to simply hope and pray that the rights of DCPS students [with respect to] *their own field* are preserved and that whatever use the community has enjoyed for decades there will, maybe, somehow, continue,” Jablow wrote in an email to The Hoya. “That’s not exactly democratically heartwarming.”