David Huie, the director of buildings and grounds for the D.C. schools said Monday he will ask the system's athletic department to provide time for proper maintenance for school athletic fields.
Huie said a letter "is in the typewriter now" to Frank Bolden, the school system's director of health, physical education, athletics and safety, asking for cooperation in scheduling time when the facilities would be free from public use.
"We can't continue to use the fields for the D.C. public schools, the recreation department, all kinds of other uses," Huie said. "They never have any time to let the fields rest. We can't maintain them when they're constantly used.
"Here again, you have to understand that these are basically urban, landlocked fields. There is not much we can do. We can't lock the public off. We need a way to give the fields a rest."
When contacted, Bolden said, "I'm not aware of (the letter), but I can certainly understand what he's saying and I would certainly cooperate."
However, Bolden said only "community cooperation" could keep the general public from continuously using the fields. There is no way for the school system to police its facilities, he said.In the past, Bolden said, the general public has shown little regard for school facilities. At times trespassers have illegally used the facilities after cutting through the surrounding fences. Even those groups with permission to use fields, Bolden added, often showed little concern for maintaining the facilities. In several incidents teams wore shoes with long spikes on the city's new outdoor tracks. The spikes dug deep holes in the expensive finish.
"With the continuous use by outside agencies, there's not always time to properly maintain the facilities to keep the facilities in a serviceable condition for the youngsters for which the facilities were constructed," Bolden said. "Take the Cardozo (High School) stadium, for example. It was a beautiful stadium, one of the best in the United States. It still is one of the most serviceable. Now you can hardly find a blade of grass on it."
Maintenance of facilities is particularly important in D.C. because, with the fiscal climate in the city, new facilities are rare and deteriorate quickly. Woodson High School, which opened in 1972, is a prime example. Despite its being the second-newest high school in the city, Woodson's football field is among the worst in condition.
Construction is nearly complete on a new football field for Theodore Roosevelt High School. The school at 13th and Upshur streets NW is also projected to have a complete new athletic setup - with a swimming pool and a new gym - by the end of 1980 as part of a $13,730 total renovation of the schools.
Eastern High School is scheduled to undergo a similar face-lift in October, and a total revamping of McKinley and Coolidge high schools will be proposed for fiscal year 1980.
The new Dunbar High School, which is in its first year of operation at 1301 New Jersey Ave. NW, will have a full complement of athletic facilities by next school year, but Bolden said his office is already besieged with more requests for use of the grounds than can possibly be granted. Ballou, Coolidge and Woodson high schools all have recently renovated, all-weather outdoor tracks (Spingarn already had one), which already have been overused and abused.
However, school system officials say they do not think building new facilities is necessarily the answer to the generally decrepit condition of the athletic facilities in the city schools. Rather, they think the facilities - the outdoor fields in particular - should be periodically left unused to allow the fields to be properly maintained. Huie said if this is done, their condition could improve noticeably.
"Well, the point is we have to do what we can under the circumstances with the facilities," said Otto Jordan, the athletic director for the city schools. "Athletics are part of the total school picture, and the total school picture is dark.
"Every (football field) that's standing could be upgraded. All of them are in pretty bad shape . . . We have been fortunate that we have not had any (major) accidents because unate that we have not had any (major) accidents because and breaking a leg."