Commissioner Pinkney re: LAYC/JF Cook

The Council of the District of Columbia Committee of the Whole is convening a public roundtable on December 10, 2010 on the proposed development of the John F. Cook Elementary School by Youthbuild Charter School and the Latin American Youth Center. The Youthbuild Charter School will train 150 students, aged 16-24 on the first floor of the school. The Latin American Youth Center will provide affordable housing for 47 young adults, aged 18-24 on the second and third levels of the John F. Cook Elementary School. Youthbuild Charter School and the Latin American Youth Center currently do not have a campus site that houses both their education and residential components. Our community, John F. Cook Elementary School, would serve as an experimental campus site.

If the plan to house the Latin American Youth Center in the Cook School building comes to fruition, this will represent the fourteenth social services program to be located in our community.  As far as we have been able to determine, no other neighborhood in the city comes close to hosting such a high concentration of social services entities.  This concentration of social services continues to have the effect of repressing economic development in the lower North Capitol Street corridor and as we all know, lack of economic development translates into high neglect, high crime and the lowering of neighborhood property values.

The community commends Youthbuild Public Charter School and the Latin American Youth Center for their excellent work throughout the years with the at risk youth of our city, especially given the fact that there is an alternative site near Catholic University where the community would welcome Youthbuild Public Charter School and the Latin American Youth Center with open arms.   However, we as a community strongly feel that their organization is not a good fit for our community.  The community desires a cultural arts center and mixed use retail in the John F. Cook Elementary School building to be shared and enjoyed by all residents in the community.  Such a center would not only provide immediate benefits to residents of our neighborhood, but would also likely spur the kind of economic development that will benefit us all in the long term.

I strongly encourage all residents who are able to attend the Council’s roundtable and to express our collective concerns about what is best for our community.  For those who can’t appear in person, written statements will be accepted and made a part of the record.  Our failure to speak up leaves us vulnerable to decisions made by those who frankly don’t have the same stake in the future of this community as those of us who actually reside here.  Let’s all come together, in person or in writing, on Friday, December 10th, at the District Building, to make our voices heard.

Please contact me if you are planning to testify or offer written testimony in support of our community.

Sylvia M. Pinkney
Commissioner ANC 5C02
(202) 208-2817

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