By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Parents who take in a youth soccer game at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Columbia Heights shouldn't have any trouble remembering who the D.C. mayor is.
Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) held a ribbon-cutting at the school Monday to unveil recent renovations, including a new soccer field.
The field, which cost taxpayers $558,000, appears to rival those at colleges. It features artificial turf, safety padding, bleacher-style seating for 250 spectators, a wrought-iron fence, team bleachers and soccer goals with new netting.
"This is a fantastic field," Fenty said. "This field has the same high standard of quality we have at some high schools. . . . People from Maryland and Virginia are going to drive by these fields and say, 'We want these fields.' "
But the easiest thing to spot on the field, which school officials said replaces an unsafe dirt facility, is Fenty's name.
The middle of the field features a huge city logo that stretches at least 30 yards. If you're sitting in the bleachers, the name "Mayor Adrian M. Fenty" encompasses much of your view. Closer to the bleachers, at the bottom of the logo, "District of Columbia" is scrawled across the field.
When asked whether it was common for a mayor's name to be featured so prominently on a school athletic field, Fenty said, "I don't know."
"Our team put it on and thought it was appropriate," said Allen Y. Lew, executive director of the Office of Public Education Facilities and Management.
Melvin Butler, a program manager who works under Lew, offered a more complete explanation. Butler said high school athletic fields traditionally feature the school's mascot. Because this field will also be available for neighborhood use, he said officials decided to put the city logo on it.
"This field is also going to be for community use," Butler said. "It is considered more of a D.C. field, so we put the D.C. logo and mayor's name."
The D.C. Republican Committee issued a statement Tuesday calling on Fenty to immediately remove his name from the field.
"The administration has essentially created a Fenty Field," Robert J. Kabel, chairman of the D.C. Republican Committee, said in a statement