DC leaders break ground on Anacostia’s first new rec center in 20 years

In a lot behind Ketcham Elementary School in D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood, ground was broken Monday morning for the city’s newest recreation center. The $15 million Anacostia Recreation Center will be the first new recreation center built in Ward 8 in 20 years, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser.

“It will especially play a critical role in keeping our young people active and safe,” Bowser said.

According to the D.C. Department of Recreation, the center will provide a full-size gymnasium and one of the biggest fitness centers in the city. There will also be a demonstration kitchen, classrooms and multipurpose rooms inside.

Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
Shovels in the ground at the groundbreaking ceremony on Monday. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
The Anacostia Recreation Center groundbreaking ceremony on Monday. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

Outside, the center will have a basketball court, playgrounds, a field for sports, lit walking paths and a promenade connecting 14th and 15th streets.

“I’m excited today, I know this is another step forward to where we need to be,” said Ward 8 council member Trayon White.

White said while he has been frustrated by how long it took to get to this point, he is happy there is progress in building not only this center, but four others in the city.

As the District continues to struggle with higher crime rates, especially when it comes to crimes involving young people, White said these center are among the solutions that will help curb it.

White said that when we don’t build constructive things for people to do, it leaves a vehicle for people to be “destructive.”

Acting Director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department Thennie Freeman said figuring out what services and programs were needed here was part of a community effort.

“Every program was designed with community in mind — we sat with the ANC commissioners, we’re hearing from the community what they need and actually what they want, and then we’re serving it to them,” Freeman said.

The community center is set to open in the fall of 2024.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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