The District on Monday opened the new $14.7 million Anacostia Public Library, part of an effort by the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to complete the construction of long-awaited libraries throughout the city.
The new library, which can hold 80,000 books, DVDs, CDs and other materials and features 32 computers for public use, was six years in the making. Though the former library's closing pre-dated the Fenty administration, the mayor was criticized in 2007 for quickly moving to rebuild the Georgetown public library after a fire when construction on other libraries, like Anacostia, were in limbo.
"This facility is a perfect example of the city government striving to deliver world-class services and facilities to our neighborhoods," Fenty said of the new facility on Good Hope Road SE in a statement. "This state-of-the-art facility will serve as a valuable tool for our youth providing them with additional educational resources enabling them to continue down the path of academic progress."
The new library will be open Monday through Saturday.
Over the past three years, the Fenty administration has saw the opening of dozens of new parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, libraries and recreational centers. Although many of them were in the planning stages before Fenty took office, administration officials argue they deserve credit for pushing the projects to completion.
But Fenty's chief rival in the mayor's race, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), is questioning whether the mayor has spread enough of the wealth around to the city's poorest communities.
Gray suggested at his campaign kickoff that Fenty didn't care about the poorer sections of the city.
"We hoped for a mayor that would represent the entire city, but instead see one that ignores those who live in the most underserved neighborhoods," Gray said.
A Washington Post poll conducted in January showed many residents who live east of the Anacostia River also question Fenty's commitment to their neighborhoods. In a head-to-head match-up with Fenty, only 14 percent of voters in Ward 7 and 8 said they would support the mayor, compared to 55 percent who would support the council chairman, according to the poll.
Since that poll was published, Fenty's official scheduled has included at least one event in Southeast a week, suggesting he understands he faces an uphill reelection battle unless he improves his numbers in that part of the city.
-- Nikita Stewart and Tim Craig