Council boosts funding for area schools, infrastructure

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Eaton Elementary School, located at 3301 Lowell St. NW, is slated for a $30 million renovation. (Brian Kapur/The Current/June 2017)

A dog park saved in Ward 1, thanks to $1.5 million. In Woodley Park, $200,000 for a Main Street group to help revitalize the commercial corridor. Stormwater management investments for the Van Ness, Cleveland Park and Tenleytown neighborhoods.

These are some of the Northwest projects funded in the District’s $14.5 billion local budget, the biggest spending plan ever for the city. In addition to making citywide investments in education and homelessness prevention, D.C. Council members over the past month have combed the 2019 budget and the six-year capital spending plan to ensure funding for projects in their wards.

In Ward 3, the budget funds the modernization of John Eaton Elementary School and additions to Key and Stoddert elementary schools, which both deal with severe overcrowding.

Investments were also protected for modernizations at Ward 4 schools, D.C. Council member Brandon Todd’s office said after last week’s budget vote, including at West Education Campus, Coolidge High School, Dorothy Height Elementary School and Raymond Education Campus.

Street repairs were on the mind of many council members, and Ward 1’s Brianne Nadeau said her office marked $5.3 million for needed repavement on Columbia Road, 11th Street and Piney Branch Parkway. “Another $10 million in funding will go towards sidewalk repair, and $16.5 million for alley reconstruction,” Nadeau’s office announced last week.

In recreation, investments were made for the modernization of the Chevy Chase Community Center, and toward amenities at Upshur Dog Park, Shepherd Elementary School and a pool at Walter Reed, Todd’s office said.

Council member Nadeau found $1.5 million to purchase from Metro a small grassy site at 11th and Park Road NW. Metro sought to redevelop the land, which had turned into a gathering place for residents and dogs. The city will now take over the land and “pay for needed upgrades and beautification,” Nadeau’s office said.

In addition, her office found funding in the 2019 budget to extend Marie Reed pool hours into the weekend, in addition to bringing morning pool hours next summer at Banneker Recreation Center and Park View Community Center. A small park at Lamont and 19th Streets NW also has funds for improvements in the budget.

For the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, which is undergoing extensive renovation, $500,000 has been restored and $300,000 added over the next two years to D.C. Public Library system’s budget to fund interim space for the historic Washingtonia collection.

Environmental investments include $350,000 for stormwater management upgrades at Hearst Park. There is $8 million budgeted to build Tenleytown Plaza, enhance the Van Ness Commercial Corridor on Connecticut Avenue, and complete a stormwater drainage project in Cleveland Park, aimed at preventing flooding and updating aging sidewalk infrastructure.

The D.C. Council will take a final vote on the local budget on May 29, with final passage of related budget legislation on June 5.

For his part, Ward 2 D.C. Council member Jack Evans noted the budget’s investments in education, including a 3.9 percent increase in per-student funding. He’s also repeating calls for prudent spending.

“As the Council just approved this enormous budget the city and agencies need to do a better job of knowing exactly how our money is spent,” Evans said in a weekly newsletter. “When the District allocates money to DCPS, which has been hit hard by reports of multiple scandals in the past five months, it’s more important than ever to make sure they use it wisely and efficiently.”