WITH FAIRNESS, energy and speed, Sterling
Tucker has responded to a community emergency with sensible recommendations for resolving the bitter conflict over the closing of the Anthony Bowen Y in the Shaw neighborhood. After exhaustive talks with all sides, coupled with an impartial, independent investigation of the building's structure, Mr. Tucker, serving as Mayor Barry's mediator, has come up with a plan that should satisfy the concerns of every party involved.
In suggesting that the mayor step in and resolve this crisis, we were thinking foremost about the importance of the Y's continuing presence in the Shaw neighborhood, where the young people desperately need constructive recreational activities. Mr. Tucker's plan would answer this need as well as save the historic Bowen building as an active community facility.
Under the proposals, Mayor Barry would lead a drive for private contributions of about $150,000 to restore those floors of the Bowen building that the Y has been using over the past several years, and the Y would return there--until it could build an architecturally compatible and better facility on the site it owns adjacent to the building. In addition, the city would make an important land exchange with the Y --the city would take title to the Bowen building to preserve it as a historic landmark and would provide the Y with another site--perhaps at Georgia and Missouri avenues NW--for a modern, full-service facility.
That, if everything comes together, would add up to 1) two new and better Y facilities, one alongside the Bowen building and one with expanded grounds and programs elsewhere; 2) a renovated Bowen building reflecting the long and important cultural history of the building and neighborhood; and 3) a constructive resolution of a dangerously divisive dispute.
There is bound to be some initial doubt and distrust, because in the bitterness, candor has not always prevailed. But this weekend, as residents of the neighborhood most directly affected gather to demonstrate their concerns, patience and a reasoned request for full acceptance of Mr. Tucker's and Mayor Barry's good-faith proposal could bring lasting improvements to the community.