VOH -Rosedale hopes for library at new [Rosedale] community center

Rosedale hopes for library at new [Rosedale] community center
July 22, 2009
By Daniel Langhorne
Voice Correspondent

The Northeast Capitol Hill advisory neighborhood commission and other community groups are pushing two city agencies to work together to include a library in the soon-to-be-built Rosedale Community Center.

“We have to break down … artificial barriers that exist between city departments and put facilities in where people have the greatest access to them,” said Northeast Capitol Hill commissioner Kelvin Robinson.

But current plans for the new community center — which will replace the Rosedale Recreation Center when it’s demolished at the end of the year — don’t include the 3,000-square-foot library neighborhood leaders want.

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, which manages the Rosedale site, this month selected the architecture firm CORE to design the new building and gave it three months to finalize the plans, said spokesperson John Stokes. The first of several community meetings will be held by the end of the month to get input on the building from residents, he said. A new library is one among many suggestions for the center the agency is considering, Stokes said.

“The discussion for having a library is still on the table,” he said. “The decision regarding a library will be made in the near future.”

The D.C. Public Library announced last year that it was considering opening a library at the new community center. But the library’s board of trustees decided in March that it would not consider a new library there or any other site in D.C. until a citywide service assessment is completed in fall 2010, said library spokesperson George Williams. A decision on whether to include a library will depend on the review’s results, and library officials are bound by the board’s decision to hold off on planning until the assessment is finished, Williams said.

“When we look at expanding library services we want to know what type of library service would best serve Rosedale and other neighborhoods in the city,” Williams said.

In addition to the apparent scheduling conflicts of the two agencies, a new library would raise the cost of the center from $14 million to an estimated $25 million, said Ward 6 D.C. Council member Tommy Wells.

John Cotten, community liaison for the Friends of Rosedale, suggested that funds being used for the nearby R.L. Christian and Langston library kiosks — which are slated for eventual closure — could be channeled into a new library to help make up the difference.

Library officials have suggested that the Northeast Neighborhood Library at 300 7th St. NE, about a mile and a half from the Langston kiosk and a little under a mile from the R.L. Christian kiosk, could serve as an alternative to residents when the kiosks close. Some residents disagree.

“It would be too far for the children to go,” said resident Brenda Artis. “We want something in the heart of our community.”

Even though plans are up in the air, the Friends of Rosedale is already organizing volunteers to work with children in a reading program at a potential future library, Cotten said.

Brit Wyckoff, co-chair for outreach with the Rosedale Citizens Alliance, said he believes a library at the community center is the best chance for one in Rosedale within the lifetime of its current residents.

“You get a shot at this maybe every 50 years,” said Wyckoff. “We want to make sure that the library is not left out of this planning.”

The above article was extracted from Voice of the Hill in its entirety, except for minor clarifications in [text].

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