The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation has postponed indefinitely a plan to close the Chevy Chase Community Center at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m. after protests from our association and other users of the facility. Agency director Keith Anderson announced the decision at an Oct. 23 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3/4G (Chevy Chase) after several ANC 3/4G members, our association and others spoke against the planned change.
Anderson vowed to review use of the center and to pay attention to community wishes about the facility’s operations. However, he offered no firm timetable for a final decision or any promise to retain the current hours, which are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. He said that ideally, the center should be open longer hours, and perhaps on Sundays.
A series of speakers on behalf of groups that meet at the center on weeknights — including fencers, Scrabble players and telescope makers, plus ANC 3/4G itself and our association — said that many participants now are unable to take part until after work or dinner. That means there would be insufficient time to finish group sessions by the 8:30 time that the recreation department would require meetings or activities to stop in anticipation of a 9 p.m. building closure.
Association president Deean Rubin said halting meetings at 8:30 p.m. could “force our organization to reduce the number of services we provide to the community.” Monthly meetings often run until 9:30 p.m. “We provide meetings on a variety of topics,” Rubin said, including candidate debates for each D.C. Council election. She added, “Our community relies on our programming, and it would be a shame if the D.C. government reduced our ability to provide these valuable services.”
The center says it still has room in classes this fall in fencing, pottery, guitar, gymnastics for ages 2 to 12, karate, line dancing, tai chi, and ballet for ages 4 to 9.
The recreation department also led a meeting last Thursday to get public feedback on a planned renovation of the recreation center in Lafayette Park off 33rd Street NW. Attendees urged modernizing the facility’s bathrooms and allowing more access to them. They also asked for expanded interior space and more working water fountains in the park. The department will soon post an online survey to help gauge community views before holding more public meetings.
— Ted Gest