In Mayor’s $17.5 Billion Budget: $30 Million for Jelleff Rec, $3.5 Million for Ellington Field
By June 1, 2021 0 870•
The word on the budget is out. Georgetown representatives, parents and youth who use the popular but aging Jelleff Recreation Center, Boys and Girls Club and public outdoor pool at 3265 S St. NW, have cajoled city parks and recreation planners for years to refurbish the facilities. Now, at long last, the mayor’s budget priorities might mean this lobbying effort is about to pay off. On May 26, Mayor Bowser announced a fourfold increase in funding to renovate the center.
The mayor’s 2022 budget proposal adds $21 million to an already budgeted renovation fund of $7 million. With other committed revenue, the final budget to make Jelleff into a community center could be around $30 million. Bowser has also proposed $3.5 million to develop a feasibility study and plan to update the Ellington Field and track at 38th and S Sts. NW; and $700,000 to fully returf Volta Park at the junction of the 1500 block of 34 St., Volta and Q Sts. NW in Georgetown.
“This is the first step toward creating a vibrant community center for our Georgetown community,” wrote Georgetown/Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Elizabeth Miller and Kishan Putta in a joint release. “Our community, unlike most others in D.C., has been lacking vibrant public indoor spaces for community functions, gatherings, performances and the like.”
According to the final feasibility report released by Perkins Eastman on May 25, the Jelleff Center’s highly used maingym will remain in place as well as the lower-level Boys and Girls Club that has operated there for decades. But the East side of the existing building will be demolished to make way for a new common atrium area, locker rooms, workout space, practice gym and a flexible meeting room space. The site work will involve relocating a portion of the existing pool and will include new decking, trellis work and a splash pad. Existing fencing along the playing field will be reworked and the parking lot reconfigured.
The budgeted funds for Ellington Field will initially be spent on a comprehensive feasibility study. The field and all-weather track, renovated by Georgetown University, was transferred in 2019 from the Department of Public Schools (DPS) to the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). “No decisions have been made (about any changes),” wrote ANC Commissioner Kishan Putta who lives about a block from the park and whose family uses it daily. “DPS told us they would study it and come back to us with options for our input. While we appreciate the proposed investment, we have only just begun the community engagement process with DPR. A first public meeting was held in April. We expect more, including surveys. We insist that no decisions be made until the community engagement process has concluded and all input has been carefully considered.”
The budgets for renovation of Jelleff and Ellington public recreational facilities in Georgetown are only a miniscule part of the mayor’s $17.5 billion budget for FY 2021-22 that is to operationalize beginning Oct. 1. The coming weeks will see numerous council and community budget meetings to revise the mayor’s draft budget. Bowser proposes to boost funding in almost every major area — especially public housing — except the police department. The city’s fat budget is due to the District’s receiving more than $2.3 billion from the federal American Rescue Plan for Covid relief projects. Those funds must be used over the next four years.
ANC commissioners Putta and Miller and Ward 2 Councilwoman Brooke Pinto are committed to the full increase of the renovation budget for Jelleff Recreation Center. In various memos and resolutions, ANC2E has made Jelleff a priority. In addition, Pinto has proposed other budget initiatives, including: funding for a new Shaw Middle School, The Dupont Deck-Over project, the expansion of violence prevention programs, the expansion of the Great Streets Program to include Ward 2 businesses, and other small business support projects including rent relief.