$47M Funds Citywide Projects

JOHN CURRAN FOR THE HOYA The Duke Ellington School for the Arts will receive $9.8 million to complete renovations.

The Duke Ellington School for the Arts will receive $9.8 million to complete renovations.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a $47 million funding plan to aid city education, infrastructure, small businesses and parks across all eight wards of Washington, D.C., on Oct. 9.

The funding comes from the $25 million that the District gained in accepting a corporate sponsorship from the Potomac Electric Power Company for the development of the D.C. United Soccer Stadium, with the remainder sourced from city-wide underspending in the 2015 fiscal year.

The announcement on the mayor’s website highlighted the plan’s aim to enhance the city’s infrastructure, facilities and economy.

“Mayor Muriel Bowser is committed to investing in the priorities that are important to District residents,” the website reads. “These community improvements will boost the local economy and create pathways to the middle class.”

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts at 35th and R Street will receive a $9.8 million share of the funding to complete its $115 million renovation of its Georgetown campus. According to a Department of General Services report on the project, this renovation will low the school to accept an increase of students amounting to 10 percent of the current student population of 541. The remodeled version of the school is set to be approximately 258,072 square feet, almost 100,000 square feet larger than current facilities when it is completed in Fall 2016.

Until that time, displaced students will continue to be housed at the former Meyer Elementary and Garnett-Patterson Middle School in the U St/Columbia Heights neighborhood.

The largest allotment in the mayor’s plan, approximately $27 million, will go toward improving city infrastructure.

Among various other large-scale projects, this funding will allow for the creation of two new bridges — the Kenilworth Parkside Pedestrian Bridge and the H Street Bridge.

The Kenilworth Bridge is a part of a larger plan to connect Kenilworth with the greater D.C. area. Currently, Kenilworth lacks the proper infrastructure for pedestrians to safely enter and exit the area, leaving it isolated from the rest of the city.

Bowser’s Director of Communications Michael Czin said this bridge will address those concerns and make the area more accessible.

“The Kenilworth Pedestrian Bridge is really about helping strengthen the community,” Czin said. “It’s a challenge the way things are set up to get from Deanwood to the closer Metro, so this will help make the neighborhood a little bit safer for pedestrians.”

The H Street Bridge will cross First and Second Streets in Northeast Washington in an attempt to offer more transportation options to and from Union Station. The mayor’s plan cites this as a step in transforming Union Station into a greater transportation hub.

Beyond infrastructural projects, the funding will aid community development, with $4.5 million going to support for small businesses in the Cleveland Park, Anacostia, Marshall Heights and Kennedy Street areas. Another $500,000 will fund business incentives in the Dupont Circle, 14th Street, H Street and Shaw areas, such as the use of ecologically friendly trash compactors.

Czin said requests made by District residents catalyzed this decision.

“That will help out the Business Improvement Districts in those neighborhoods,” Czin said. “These are places where we heard that there is a need for increased support for small business and advocating for them out of those communities.”

The Office of Risk Management will also receive a $3 million allotment from the new funding plan, which will allow for the purchase of new technology. The aim is to increase the office’s efficiency for employees and for those who file claims through the office, which currently has no advanced system for claim management.

The office’s Risk Identification, Analysis and Control Division Manager Kim Nimmo spoke optimistically about this new technology.

“It helps us to run more efficiently because you are able to see all of the data in one place,” Nimmo said. “If you’re a District worker, you want things to be resolved quickly. Having a system in place gets that done much more effectively.”

Another component of the funding plan is the nearly $9 million that will go toward renovating city parks, including the park at Garrison Elementary School, the Lafayette Recreation Center and Ludlow Taylor Elementary playground.

Additionally, around $2 million is designated to the installation of a new media center in Benjamin Banneker High School and the improvement of pre-kindergarten classrooms at Maury Elementary School.

The remaining funds will go to the District’s Department of Oak Hill Youth Rehabilitation Services and the acquisition of blighted properties by the city for redevelopment.

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