VOtH: Rosedale Community Center Set to Get Library

Voice of the Hill
Rosedale Community Center Set to Get Library

October 02, 2009
By Julie Westfall, Staff Writer

The soon-to-be-under-construction Rosedale Community Center will get its much-desired library, Mayor Adrian Fenty and Ward 6 D.C. Council member Tommy Wells promised this week at the center’s groundbreaking.

Though the D.C. Public Library board of trustees has yet to grant its official blessing, the mayor announced that at the least, a 4,000-square-foot structure capable of hosting a library would be added to the L-shaped design of the 22,000-square-foot new center at 1701 Gales St. NE.

“The next step is to get the library to say there’s going to be a library there,” Wells said, adding that he was confident he could win the board’s cooperation.

The prospect of getting a library on the site was in jeopardy over the summer. Library officials have refused to address the possibility of opening a branch there while they work on a citywide library assessment that won’t be finished until next year. In the meantime, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation began to design the new facility.

And the center — originally budgeted for $12 million — needed $3 million more for a library. Wells managed to get the money earmarked for the facility during tight budget negotiations in July. The money did not appear in a preliminary May budget, but was in the council’s final budget. Wells would not elaborate on how the expenditure made it into the budget.

“I found it under a rock. I made a commitment to the community,” he said, adding that he worked closely on the matter with Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas, who chairs the council’s Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation.

Slated for a summer 2011 finish, the center will replace the now-shuttered and smaller Rosedale Recreation Center but retain its swimming pool. Everything else will be redone. New basketball courts and a tennis court will be constructed. A small spray park will be installed by the pool, and a new football field will be carved into the center’s enormous green space.

The new building — a brick and glass structure — will house a large gymnasium, fitness room, game room, senior room and a multipurpose room.

“I am so excited. I hope I don’t cry,” said Sandra Phillips-Gilbert, the leader of the Rosedale Grassroots Organization, just before the groundbreaking.

Northeast Capitol Hill (ANC 6A) advisory neighborhood commissioner Gladys Mack, who helped the mayor scoop the first shovels of dirt, also cheered that the day had come.

“It was so important to me because we didn’t have anything for our children to do,” she said.

Various neighborhood groups, led by the Rosedale Citizens Alliance, will mount a fundraising campaign to raise money for future programming at the new center.

Now that Rosedale Recreation has shut down, some of its programs, including the day care and the computer room, have been moved to interim space nearby in the old Gibbs Elementary School building.

The above article was taken in its entirety from the VOtH website

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