Troubled Northwest rec center to get overhaul

The city is planning to remodel a Northwest recreational center that neighbors say has been a hot spot for crime and trash.

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A groundbreaking is set this week for an $11 million project that calls for a community center with new tennis courts, playgrounds, and athletic fields. The center will be connected with a neighboring school.

Currently, the center near 10th and Quincy Streets Northwest is a crime magnet in the community.

“It’s a mess. I wouldn’t send my son over there,” said David Dzidzienyo, president of the Petworth action committee.

The rec center and surrounding park are littered with trash, graffiti covers the playground.

“It’s just a small little field house and unfortunately it's not attracted the right kind of attention,” said Muriel Bowser of the D.C. council.

Neighbors say drug deals and violent crime are common. The park offers escape routes.

“North, south east, west, there's holes in the fence or gates that are supposed to be locked that aren't,” said resident Toby Hall.

Last month, 17-year-old Jamar Freeman was stabbed to death in an alley bordering the park. His attacker initially fled by cutting through Raymond rec center, but was later arrested.

"Jamar was active in the community... participated in a lot of programs. He was a good kid. He was a good kid, and people should know that,” said Dzidzienyo.

“We'll be able to attract the right kind of programs to crowd out all the bad behavior,” he hopes.

Construction on the new center will last about a year.

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