Shepherd Park Community Center | Community Meeting
On Tuesday evening, Shepherd Elementary School principal Jade Brawley welcomed the community to the school to hear about plans for the upcoming Shepherd Park Community Center. Representatives from DC Public Schools, the D.C. Department of General Services (DGS) and the Department of Parks and Recreation were on hand to share some early renderings and receive community feedback.
The Shepherd Elementary School Modernization project has had a long and sometimes bumpy history. After the completion of two of a planned three phases of modernization, DCPS changed its school renovation methodology to “whole school” modernizations from the phased system. Some members of the city council insisted that the funding that had been earmarked for Shepherd should be “swept” away and used on other schools’ projects instead. That left Shepherd with modernized classrooms and spiffy new atrium, but a gymnasium and cafeteria that were built in the 1950s and completely insufficient for modern use.
After strong advocacy from the community and some legislative wrangling by Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd , $12M in capital funding was secured for the completion of the Shepherd modernization. DCPS will combine the school project with a Department of Parks and Recreation center. This would create the Shepherd Park Community Center, which will be used by the school during the daytime and shared with the community in the evenings and weekends.
The Department of Parks and Recreation has built a series of award-winning recreation centers throughout the city which neighbors have come to adore. A few examples that reflect the amenities that are possible at the Shepherd Elementary site are listed below:
Three Potential Configurations
The project feasibility team has been studying the school site to determine the best way to meet school and community needs. Additional goals include designing an optimal construction phasing plan to minimize impacts to the neighbors and school community.
The team has proposed three potential configurations. All of the configurations feature a new, regulation-sized gymnasium, a catering kitchen, an expanded dining area for students, a fitness room and a renovated multipurpose room. One of the potential designs is shown below. A highlight that all three designs shared is a cantilevered platform which could extend the gymnasium over the Shepherd hill (approximately ten feet) and make for truly spectacular sightlines above the lower field and sunsets over Rock Creek Park.
The total area of the addition would be approximately 20,000 sf. The gym would be large enough to contain and 84 by 50 foot basketball court, similar in size to the one at the Emery Recreation Center.
Here is another option:
Shepherd Park Community Center | Proposed Schedule
The feasibility study, which is ongoing, is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer of 2018. If all goes well, the bidding and award process will take place during the winter of 2018, with design and permitting finished in the spring of 2019. At this time, DGS is planning to hire a single design/build firm for the project to streamline costs.
If all goes as planned, construction would begin immediately after the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year, to give the firm the entire summer to work on high impact tasks such as installing the steel frame while the students are not in session. The construction schedule is slated to last for 12 to 14 months. Ideally, the new facility would be open to students and the community in the fall of 2020.
Project manager Brent Sisco said that we should expect to see many more meetings and community outreach activities as this project develops. Future updates, including design changes and community meeting schedules will be posted at the Shepherd Park Community Center website.