ANC 3/4G recognized from the inception of this review that full community participation was essential. Thus, at its September 12, 2016 meeting, ANC 3/4G initiated a process that would provide extensive community input in defining the Community Center’s future. The prospect for renovations was raised initially at the ANC’s April 25, 2016 meeting with Mayor Bowser, and in July 2016, several ANC 3/4G Commissioners and representatives from the Chevy Chase Citizens Association (CCCA) met with the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) about its plans for the Community Center. The ANC sought to develop a process to ensure that decisions would be made based on the best information available and that they would reflect a full and complete vetting with the affected community.
The District contemplated some upgrades to the Community Center in its FY 2018-FY 2023 Capital Improvements Plan, https://cfo.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ocfo/publication/attachments/DC%20GOVT %20FY%202018%20BUDGET%20–%20CONGRESS%20–%20VOL%205.pdf at page 156. That Plan included allocation of $3.5 million in FY 2019 and $4.5 million in FY 2020 to “make ADA improvements, new elevators, new multifunctional rooms and new and expanded program space” at the Community Center. DPR told the ANC at the meeting in July 2016, however, that this amount of money would only be sufficient to address critical renovation needs — e.g., improved ADA accessibility and essential upgrades to water, electrical, and heating and air conditioning systems but no new or expanded space. According to the Capital Improvements Plan, this limited work was projected to require about 17 months for design and 14 months for construction.
Because the Community Center is a vital, long-term asset for our neighborhood and because decisions made in the next few years will have ramifications for decades, the ANC sought the community’s views on several critical questions, including: (1) what are the current needs, expectations, and requirements, and how do we expect them to evolve in the future (i.e., a comprehensive “needs assessment”); (2) how will the current renovation plans satisfy short- and long-term needs; (3) are there available alternatives to the currently planned renovation that would better meet community needs; (4) what is the best use of public funds for the Community Center; and (5) what role should the ANC, the CCCA, and the broader community have in decisions about the future of the Community Center?
The ANC unanimously adopted a motion at its September 12, 2016 meeting to begin a lengthy data-gathering and analysis process with a series of special meetings. On November 9, 2016, the ANC held the first special meeting to begin this effort. That meeting, like all of the others discussing the Community Center, was facilitated by the ANC, publicized broadly to the community, and open to everyone. Representatives from the DPR, the DC Public Library, and the Office on Aging each made presentations on their current efforts to assess the community’s needs, whether the existing facilities meet those needs, and whether there are any current plans for improvements to the facilities.
The survey closing date passed with 929 respondents. The results have been examined, additional community-wide meetings took place, and the final report (see below) has been submitted to Mayor Bowser and City Council members. Based on our in-depth evaluation, we recommended that the capital budget include $24 million for work to begin in FY 2019 to modernize the Community Center. We now look forward to meeting with the key decisionmakers to discuss our report and recommendations. These include the Mayor’s office, the City Council, DPR, and DGS to achieve our community’s vision for what the Community Center can and should be.