Securing Public Access to UDC Tennis Courts at Yuma St. and Connecticut Ave, NW.

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Re: Securing Public Access to UDC Tennis Courts at Yuma St. and Connecticut Ave, NW.

October 23, 2020

Office of Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 108
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Councilmember, Cheh,

As residents of D.C. and specifically Ward 3, we are increasingly concerned and growing impatient with the University of the District of Columbia’s continued denial of community access to the five public tennis courts located at Yuma St. and Connecticut Ave. We are requesting your support in restoring public access to these courts and re-integrating this resource back into the community.

UDC abruptly denied access to these courts about 15 years ago after they were renovated as part of a capital investment campaign. UDC later attempted to offer a tennis membership option whereby community residents could pay an annual fee for access to the public tennis courts, which many of our neighbors viewed as unacceptable given the public status of UDC. In any case, the university was never able to administer such an initiative (further frustrating the community) and the courts have remained locked and dormant. In recent years, the courts have fallen into disrepair. Before they could be used, they would need to be resurfaced and the poor drainage addressed. Some preliminary clean-up work appears to be underway.

In January, when Mayor Bowser toured Van Ness as part of her annual walk-about, she was asked about opening the tennis courts to the public. She was surprised to hear that access was denied and made a pointed statement about the need for public spaces to be open to the public. She was even more concerned when the UDC president told her that the UDC tennis team does not use the courts and travels across the city to practice at a facility in the SE.

Individual members of the UDC tennis team also play on the two public courts at Forest Hills Park, where there already is high demand and residents often have to wait to get a court. The UDC tennis courts should be rehabilitated so both university students and the community can utilize them.

This worked well in the past. The university had its own courts for practices and competitions, and the community was free to use them at other times. The UDC courts have the added benefit of being equipped with lights so they can be used at night, making them an even more essential resource for residents juggling work and family responsibilities.

We would be remiss not to acknowledge and thank you for your efforts on the Hearst Park and Pool Project. While the community will be losing a tennis court from this location, the upgraded two courts and swimming pool are a welcome resource for the ward. We would now like you to focus on the UDC tennis courts and work with us and UDC on making them available to the public.

We believe these courts should be free of charge and self-administered just as are all other public courts in D.C. If UDC cannot manage these courts, we recommend that the District take them over. Either way, we consider access to these tennis courts as a win-win-win for D.C., our Ward 3 neighborhood and UDC.

Thank you for considering this request. We look forward to working with you on resolving this issue and enhancing the quality of life in our Van Ness neighborhood.