My experience with visiting the field at Jelleff Recreation Center has been different from the one noted by Elizabeth H. Miller in her Sept. 8 Local Opinions essay, “D.C. is playing for the wrong team.” Jelleff is in near-constant use by youths of all ages, sizes and colors. Even before one game has finished, the next teams are warming up on the sidelines, eager to get onto the field.
What made this possible was the construction of an artificial turf field designed to accommodate multiple youth sports. The $2.5 million cost of these improvements was paid by Maret School in exchange for its ability to use the field for several hours each day for an initial term and an option to extend the term if conditions were met. Maret has agreed to resurface the artificial turf, which has become worn down by extensive use.
The essay set up an us-them conflict between private and public schools, using the Wilson High School baseball team as one example. However, Wilson’s baseball teams play a significant part of their games against private school teams. These players come from families with a wide range of incomes, and many live outside Ward 3. There is no us-them dynamic.
The District should invest in more all-weather multipurpose fields, using public dollars when possible and tapping into private resources in creative ways to expand the availability and use of limited fields. Partnerships such as the one at Jelleff add playable hours to make the pie bigger and create more options, not fewer, for youth sports.
Glenn Williamson, Washington