From the Head: A Look At The Lawn

Aidan Montessori School is an urban school… in the best sense of the word. Whether it’s a neighborhood walk, students going out to the hardware store, exploring nature in Rock Creek Park, or visiting The Kennedy Center, we embrace our urban setting and see the District as part of our learning environment. 

In Woodley Park, we make use of Tregaron Park, St. Thomas’ Auditorium, and the Marriott lawn (or, should we say, the “former” Marriott lawn, as the Marriott Hotel went into bankruptcy and was sold in an auction this past year). We use the former Marriott lawn for physical education classes, recess, and some of our discovery programs. Families also enjoy communing there after pick up. 

Essentially, this lawn is an integral part of our campus. While we do not have the coiffed turf playing fields of larger schools that serve older children, the Marriott lawn has served us well for all of our age groups. However, now that the hotel has been bought and development plans put in place, there is valid concern about the impact this might have on our school.

Some of you may be happily unaware of this development. Others may be concerned for the school’s ability to have access to the field. I am writing this letter to let you know that the present plans are in the school’s favor, and we are keeping a close eye on all potential developments. We have a professional monitoring the situation for us, and several of us have attended community meetings. The new buyers even initiated a productive video call with me. In short, the buyers’ explicit plan is to leave the green space as is, with perhaps some necessary attention to the landscaping. They emphasized that this is their plan, and they will follow through with it regardless of competing interests. Additionally, they are building “by right” and not taking direction from any constituents, although they are actively seeking input from surrounding neighbors and organizations. 

If any of you would like to express support for keeping the lawn as is and public access, feel free to send an email of support to: historic.preservation@dc.gov.

Six years ago, the developer, JBG nearly sold the property to a different buyer. That buyer wanted to increase the density of housing on the site. Because of this, the input of neighbors and organizations held some sway. That buyer’s plan included decreasing the green space and several other issues that were quite contentious at the time. 

There are many competing interests still: people are divided on whether there should be more (or less!) parking, a grocery store, a community center, and much more. Those discussions are of much less interest to Aidan. As long as we have our beloved playing and gathering field, we will welcome our new neighbors with Grace and Courtesy.

So, for the foreseeable future, continue to enjoy the Marriott Lawn as an extension of Aidan’s campus and a gathering place for the community—and we will keep you updated as the situation develops.

Sincerely,

Kevin Clark

Head of School

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