The fate of the controversial D.C. streetcar barn may be even more solid now that D.C. Public Schools has put the adjacent Spingarn High School on its list of schools to be closed.
The city is planning to build a storage and maintenance facility for the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line on the campus of Spingarn at Benning Road and 26th Street in Northeast. The trolley barn is slated to have a training facility for high school students.
But D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said Tuesday that Spingarn was on a list of schools slated to close next fall. The District hopes to reopen the school in a few years, as a career and technical education school that could use the training facility. Henderson noted that the city will need to train people to fix the streetcars, which are eventually supposed to be part of a 22-mile system around the city.
Neighbors and other opponents have opposed putting the trolley barn next to the school, concerned that the site would endanger students and be an eyesore. The Committeeof100on the Federal Citysaid the car barn is "totally unsympathetic to the aesthetics and architectureofthe Spingarn campus." And the Kingman Park Civic Association has nominated the school and campus to receive landmark status, which city officials have said could delay the opening of the streetcar line beyond late 2013.
District Department of Transportation spokesman John Lisle declined to say whether the closure would lessen community opposition to the car barn. "We can't predict what the reaction would be," he said.
But he said many things won't change despite the closure. The city is moving ahead with the planned training facility and could partner with other local schools, including the University of the District of Columbia for an adult-education program. The city also plans to continue with its safety training program of other area students, he said, to alert them about the dangers of the trolley tracks and streetcars.
And the historic landmark status could still slow down the progress, he said, as it is tied to the site, not which school fills the buildings.
Staff writer Lisa Gartner contributed.