As a lifelong D.C. resident, one who not-so-coincidentally has mostly resided in “tenacious” Tenleytown (as many of my neighbors refer to it) or “Chevie Chase” (as a historian would discover from old tract maps) or, lately, American University Park (as the real-estate mavens and some well-intentioned but myopic local politicians coined) I am compelled to hopefully augment your recent article “Wisconsin Badgers” (7/4). We very well might be seen as a tight, cohesive, and determined pack of “badgers.”
We, the remaining who have not yet been driven out by problems associated with group homes or terminally frustrated with D.C.’s Third World lack of enforcement of any kind, absolutely still are that cohesive neighborhood that warranted your “Knockout” sidebars.
However, although “Wisconsin Badgers” was well-researched and essentially complimentary, a few issues were slightly underrepresented. First, as an aside, your article alluded to ex-Mayor Marion Barry’s eventual attention to our little neighborhood as coming under duress; the fact is that many of us were aware that the federal D.C. Oversight Committee declared that D.C. would never have home rule while Hizzoner was mayor. That likely accounts for the 15 percent Barry vote from these few precincts; neighbors with the sacrificial foresight to take on a long-range, bigger problem. We meet, lament, reflect, and act; that’s our little Tenleytown.
We have welcomed controlled growthfor instance, allowing a private school of which the student population was only 50 percent D.C. residents, and the faculty a far smaller fraction. We begrudgingly accepted a few fast-food establishments, although the D.C. government established contrary restrictions; we looked aside as bars and restaurants slowly exceeded their legal limitations. We feel that some huge transmission tower abutting a street is simply too much. This neighborhood has acquiesced to many growth proposals, all eventually usurped or violated. The result has been essentially unbridled growth at the expense of residential quality of life. We are not the “badgers,” we are the prey.
Rather than comparing Tenleytown to the enviable Cleveland Park, let’s compare it to Adams Morgan. Adams Morgan is a great place to visit, but one might wonder how vocal the residents were before all the restaurants, bars, graffiti, crime, and vandalism.
I don’t want my neighborhood to become “vibrant” like Adams Morgan; my neighborhood is called American University Park only because of the group homes and obnoxious parties. My neighborhood is Tenleytown. I frequent Adams Morgan; I don’t see chalk drawings on the sidewalk, I don’t see rope swings in the yards, and I don’t see scores of neighbors together for summer barbecues.
We have zoning for a reason. Let’s keep it.