I have been frustrated. Emails have been sent to Councilman Tommy Wells and the D.C. Parks department. Questions have been asked of the neighborhood kids and construction workers installing a breathtakingly nice football/baseball/soccer field. When is our basketball court at Watkins Rec Center at 13th and D SE going to be playable again?
A construction worker yesterday had the answer on Friday: About a month. Laborers were busy yanking up the goals this week with an eye toward a new court, which the worker described as “very nice,” though he lacked details.
That’s not to say all is well. The court has been used as a storage yard for construction equipment for almost six months now, all while the new all-purpose field was installed over the old baseball field. That field is now playable; so from start to finish (and beyond) of a swanky new ballfield, basketball players have been relegated to inferior facilities around the city. That is an unacceptable amount of time for such a popular court to be out of commission. Worse, there has been no communication, even a sign, explaining that the court would soon be replaced. The fact that I had to confront construction workers to get at the truth is sad. Plus, if ballplayers had been made aware of the impending court renovation, its possible fewer people would have broken into the (poorly) locked and shuttered court to play anyway among dangerous equipment.
That’s now in the past; the city totally mishandled this project, taking away Capitol Hill’s best basketball courts for far too long in a city that plays basketball year-round. But now, a new basketball court should be celebrated. A strong neighborhood center will become even stronger, drawing players from all over Capitol Hill, Ward 6 and the region as a whole, meshing well with other new developments: A new park and an allegedly opening sit-down restaurant. I wish the process of renovation had been handled differently, but I am excited to see the results.