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Kenilworth Rec Area to Be Revived
The residents and Landrieu negotiated a compromise, and the federal grant was approved by Congress. However, the project's politics got even trickier.
The federal government intended to transfer the 10 acres nearest the recreation center to the city because the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation oversaw activities on the land. But although the feds approved the transfer, the District failed to complete the necessary paperwork to complete the transaction, Ray said.
When the sports commission tried to begin the renovation project last year, it was ordered to stop while the federal government reviewed the scope of the project, Ray added.
"This land is in the jurisdiction of Rod Sterling," Rhett joked. "It's the Twilight Zone."
Only recently have the feds given the go-ahead. The sports commission has done environmental assessments, obtained permits and named a contractor to do the construction work.
"The project has been so tedious," Ray said.
Last summer, the sports commission and Major League Baseball paid for a $400,000 renovation of the Fort Greble ballfields in Southeast. Officials said the effort was a sign that the arrival of the Washington Nationals would spread benefits to youth sports. The Kenilworth-Parkside project was planned long before that effort and does not include money generated by the Nationals, Ray said.
Of the $5 million in federal money allocated a few years ago, the commission has only about $3.2 million remaining because much of the money was spent on studies and planning during the project's fitful stops and starts. The city's parks and recreation office is chipping in $1.3 million for the renovation toward the $4.5 million total.
Rhett said he hopes the investment will pay big dividends beyond the obvious increase in sports opportunities.
"Recreation is the key to curbing juvenile crime," he said. "Most of the kids, when they're bored, they get into stuff. If you give them something to do and get them involved, they'll be a lot better off."