See this letter to Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. from ANC 5C01 Commissioner Bradley Thomas and ANC 5C02 Commissioner Sylvia Pinkney:
Councilmember, Harry Thomas, Jr.
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20013
Dear Councilman Thomas,
In accordance with the December 10, 2010, roundtable hearing outcome, Commissioner Bradley Thomas and I, on December 22, 2011, assembled the Truxton Circle witnesses to discuss the community`s stance regarding the use of the John F. Cook Elementary School. We exchanged possible alternatives to the ``no residential component`` stipulated by the community, developed and voted on three proposals.
First,the community would retain the J.F. Cook Elementary School. The community would work with identified developers to refurbish the school as a collaborative arts center partnering the visual and performing arts, community arts programming, artist studio space,and a design workshop under one roof. This would create a synergetic hub for the arts that meets the needs of area artists, designers, performers, and residents by creating a multi-purpose flexible venue which is used to provide a unique, exciting and culturally rich haven for the area residents and their families. An arts center would serve as a catalyst pivotal to the economic development and growth on North Capital Street, between New York Avenue and Florida Avenue, NW.
Second, the Youth Build Public Charter School (YBPCS) would be given a lease to occupy the first floor and the community would determine use of the second and third floors of the Cook School building.
Third, YBPCS would operate its school on the first floor, while the residential component, operated by the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) would be limited to twenty-five percent of the current proposal, or 5 residential units on the second floor, while the community would work with LAYC to determine the types of programs to be housed in the remainder of the space.
January, 13, 2011, Commissioner Bradley Thomas and I convened an informal follow-up meeting with LAYC representatives to explore feasible shared common ground regarding the John F. Cook Elementary School development project. The LAYC proposed affordable housing for 35 instead of 47 young adults. The young adults would be housed in eighteen units and LAYC staff in the remaining two. They also offered to reduce the number of adult residents by increasing the number of young families and to enter into a mutual agreement with the community stipulating the number of persons housed in the facility but made it very clear that any significant reduction of the number of housing units below the 18 designated for their constituent population would be fatal to their planned funding structure. They did offer various amenities for the community in exchange for our support of the project as is.
The LAYC/YBPCS representatives requested that we discuss their offer with our community group and provide feed-back. Wednesday, January 19, 2011, a meeting was called and a decision made to not accept the offer. The unanimous decision was based on the fact that because of its financial constraints and the inflexibility of the link between the size of the housing component of the Cook School project and its funding structure, the LAYC offer has effectively not changed.
Consequently, the community and LAYC have reached an impasse. Whereas the community has consistently been receptive to the Youth Build Public Charter School, we remain unified in our opposition to the residential portion of the project.
Respectfully, the Truxton Circle civic leaders and community requests that you stand with the majority of the residents in the Cook School neighborhood, the Hanover Area Civic Association, the Bates Area Civic Association and Advisory Neighborhood Commission 5C and vote and advocate in favor of allowing the council resolution that authorizes the city to lease the John F. Cook Elementary School to the YBPCS and the LAYC to expire.
Sylvia M. Pinkney
Commissioner ANC 5C02
Commissioner ANC 5C01