Petitions, neighbors, and the long view

I’m supposed to be collecting signatures to try to open the Dunbar High School track to residents. Our Dear Mayor Fenty gets to run on the track in the mornings, it would be nice if residents had the option to do so as well. In a brief shot of energy, as I’m still recovering from a cold, I grabbed the petition forms and hit the block. The first group of people were some neighbors who several months ago had collected signatures for speed humps for our block. It’s been a while since anyone has heard anything about the progress of the humps. So that tempers/ clouds my perception of how useful the Dunbar petition will be. While collecting I was able to reconnect with neighbors I haven’t seen for a while because in Winter we all hide out, so this was an opportunity to catch up.
So far everyone is still employed! Woot!
However, with the few warm days we’ve had we’ve noticed our friendly neighborhood drug dealers (who I thought had left) back scoping out the corners. Looking at it from with a long view, things have gotten better. But not so much better that the block is drug free. It depresses me that there is still something about neighborhood that makes it an environment that the dealers think they can still profit around here.
As a neighborhood we’ve chipped away at the things that would make it too easy for the dealers. We’ve gotten residential parking for many of the blocks, which is annoying when you have long term guests and short term roommates. We call the cops. We clean up and eliminated most of the opportunities for dumping, as huge piles of trash make for good drug stashes. We work with the city’s elected officials and its agencies. We voted and contributed to campaigns. We turned on our front porch lights to brighten the block and reported street lights that were out so dealers would have less dark to hide in.
Not a credit to the neighbors but a change that makes the neighborhood less welcoming to dealers is there are fewer vacant houses and shells. Despite the slow down in housing, there has been a slight increase in owner occupied housing on my block, with a promise of more owner occupiers to come. More people to fight the good fight, or at least not be part of the problem. Though not so great for affordable housing, the amount of market rate rentals have outnumbered the “Section 8” houses. I hate to say that some of our drug fighting problems can be linked to a few of the “Section 8” houses. There is probably now only one or two houses on the block where the boyz may find safe harbor. It will be a brighter day when that number is 0.
A friend of mine who visits occasionally tell me how the neighborhood gets better and better in little increments. A new paint job here, a cleaned up yard there and fewer dealers on the corner.
Maybe in the near future we’ll have our street humps and access to the Dunbar track, and when the dealers come around to scope out the block they’ll decide it’s no good and move on.

One thought on “Petitions, neighbors, and the long view”

  1. Mari is right. Mayor Fenty runs on the Dunbar field every Wednesday morning between 6:00 am and 7:00 am – come by during that time and you’ll see the large black SUVs parked outside the entrance to the field on the 200 block of N Street NW. Don’t be late though – ’cause as soon as he’s finished, they lock up the field again so no one else can use it.

    When asked about his “special priviliges”, the Mayor’s Office responded that anyone is free to use the track as long as they get the Principal’s permission to open it up ….

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