FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, July 28, 2015
FRIENDS OF CRUMMELL SCHOOL SEEKS PUBLIC USE, NOT PRIVATIZATION, OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORIC LANDMARK
Mayor Bowser recently announced plans to privatize a cherished African American historic site, the Alexander Crummell School. But, no stranger to adversity, the Ivy City community is pushing back, demanding that the school be used for recreation and workforce development, as long advocated by residents. The Friends of Crummell School has launched a new website and announced a series of activities to unite the community and its friends around their vision for a center dedicated to community uplift at the Crummell School.
Ivy City may be the latest destination for gentrification and development, attracting new liquor distilleries and lofts developed by Douglas Jemal in the old Hecht’s Warehouse. But as recently as last year, residents were still in court fighting Mayor Gray’s proposal to allow overflow tour buses to park in Ivy City, adding to already challenged air quality and sparking a community campaign to “Let Ivy City Breathe.”
Mayor Bowser appears to have abandoned the bus parking plan for another one that threatens community life – privatization of the community’s only public building, and its historic civic heart. “In recent years the city has teetered between two extremes for Ivy City,” said Parisa Norouzi of Empower DC who has worked with residents since 2001. “It’s either blight or gentrification. We haven’t seen efforts to support and uplift the existing community. Only broken promises.”
Belinda Taylor is a recent transplant to Ivy City, but she agrees with long time residents who feel they have been left out. “As a homeowner in this community I see our young people hanging in the street because we have no recreation facilities, and no programs. My desire is to use my voice to support what so many have advocated for decades. Community programs at Crummell School,” said Taylor.
The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development is holding a meeting to solicit input into a Request for Proposals (RFP) for public-private development at Crummell. They call the initiative “OurRFP” and claim community needs will be reflected in the RFP deal. But some residents question why Ivy City must rely on a deal with developers to get basic community services that other communities receive through the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Andria Swanson, a third generation resident and plaintiff in the lawsuit blocking the bus depot, is not opposed to the RFP but wants to make sure that Ivy City gets everything it deserves out the deal. “Ivy City is firm about protecting our cherished Crummell School and we want a community center that includes workforce development, child care and recreation. Our goal is to bridge a gap between privilege and poverty, educate and uplift residents to improve their lives. Hopefully the RFP will identify potential partners to help make that happen in Ivy City.”
Taylor and Swanson will share their vision for the future of the Alexander Crummell School today on the radio program Taking Action which airs at 1pm on WPFW Radio, 89.3FM.
The OurRFP session on Crummell School will be held on Wednesday, July 29th from 6:30-8:30 PM atBethesda Baptist Church, 1808 Capitol Ave NE. Friends of Crummell School has launched www.crummellschool.org to provide more information about the school’s history and vision for the future. The community will also hold the Ivy City Reunion featuring a history display and mural painting onSaturday, August 1 from 4-8PM in the Capitol Ave Park, at the corner of West Virginia Ave and Mt Olivet Rds, NE, and plans a ceremony honoring the legacy of Rev Crummell to be held on September 10th.
Parisa B. Norouzi