Tenley Library Now! No PPP...
TENLEY LIBRARY NOW
On Wednesday July 9, at a hastily called press conference, Tenley residents were shocked to learn that Mayor Fenty had overruled DCPL’s nearly completed plans for a new library. This is the second time in three years that Tenley has had fully funded, publicly vetted plans for a new library canceled.
The first time was in 2005, when four libraries including Tenley had already been closed in preparation for rebuilding. Library advocates at that time criticized the lack of public meeting space in the designs. Thus, in Tenley, there was support when, after nine months of inaction, Library Trustees finally threw out the plans calling them “inadequate.” However, this time around, Tenley residents have been fulsome in their praise of the new library plans. The Mayor may find he gets no quarter in Tenley.
At the advice of Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic development Neil Albert, Mayor Fenty has shelved the stand-alone library, in favor of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that would somehow shoehorn a 120-170 unit apartment building onto a sliver of Janney school land and in the air space over an undelineated replacement library. Parking for the library, school and apartment building would be built under the library and under Janney’s soccer field, an arrangement that the Mayor noted might even yield a “net increase” in green space. Net increase, of course, is code for “tiny amount” and a far cry from the land needed for an already overcrowded Janney, slated to have its enrollment double as part of its eventual modernization.
The new library is already funded and was about to get underway. Janney is theoretically funded, too, but is at the end of the modernization queue. Supposedly, the money from the PPP would enable Janney to be modernized sooner. However, it is unclear how the money from a sale of library land could be used for the school. In 2006, City Council unanimously approved the LEAD Act, to fund the transformation of DC’s public libraries by leveraging its properties. It specified that any revenues from the sale of library land or air rights go directly to a Library Trust Fund. It is also unclear how things could be sped up since the PPP would require time-consuming applications and approvals such as for a Planned Unit Development (PUD). The Mayor vowed to use all speed “humanly possible” but experts think it would require at least two years before construction could even begin, and who knows how long such a multi faceted construction project would take, with at least three city agencies involved as clients of the developer.
On July 23, for the first time since the Mayor’s announcement, Library Trustees met (shown above) at the SouthEast library near Eastern Market. Tenleytowners came out in force to ask the Trustees to pass a resolution against the PPP. They cited the Trustees recently approved Mixed Use Policy as grounds.
The links in the table at the above right provide more detailed background including: the work of the ANC3E special committee, concerns of Janney school parents, concerns of officials of Saint Anne’s School adjacent to both the library and Janney, resolutions by numerous neighborhood groups, DCPL's design plans, praise for the design from the US Commission on Fine Arts, the LEAD Act of 2006, Trustees Mixed Use Policy and a petition.
Tenleytown wants their library built as scheduled and as designed; they don't want a PPP!