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Your Loose Lips article titled “Barnett’s Food Fight” (3/13) is a perfect example of the violation of trust and responsibility becoming prevalent in today’s media. Like some professional athletes, there are reporters who feel they are above any code of ethics.

It is sad that the editorial staff of Washington City Paper (in this instance) sees itself as above any responsibility to its readers, or, alternatively, is hellbent on tearing down signs of progress wherever it finds them in the District of Columbia.

It is unfortunate the City Paper would feel it is in its best interest, or a service to readers, to create a story rather than report one. I do not understand City Paper’s motivation to print falsehoods and innuendo as truth, and slant a story in a fashion to unfairly taint D.C. and people’s reputations, and abuse its readership.

I presume the City Paper has decided that there is more profit in trash than truth or objectivity, and/or Loose Lips does not have any respect for readers and was to lazy and irresponsible to give a damn about the truth.

For those interested in the truth about Fresh Fields and 13th and V, my name is Nigel Gragg, a resident of D.C., and the single individual responsible for bringing Fresh Fields to the table in consideration of a 13th and V Street location. I started the entire process over a year ago with a phone call to Chris Hitt, president for the Mid-Atlantic region for Whole Foods. I am the historical source of any issues associated with Fresh Fields and 13th and V. Of course I was never contacted by the City Paper or Loose Lips for his story.

I played the pivotal role in having Fresh Fields consider a 13th and V location. I initiated the contact with Lou Donatelli. (There is no Frank.) I encouraged citizen participation in support of 13th and V. I asked for the support of Frank Smith. I contacted the Department of Housing and Community Development and requested a letter from Barnett. I arranged for Fresh Fields to meet with several civic groups and city officials. I take responsibility for the creation of the events now titled “Barnett’s Food Fight.”

I organized and attended the meetings with Fresh Fields and city officials. There were no threats made. The city officials responded to the stated interest of Fresh Fields to locate at 13th and V. The fact supporting this is that Fresh Fields had signed a letter of intent to locate at 13th and V.

John Mackey has never conferred with African-American women who told him they would not be safe at 13th and V. In fact, Mackey received a petition signed by 1,500 individuals informing him that people would feel safe shopping at 13th and V. The fact is that over the past four years there has been more crime reported at 15th and P than at 13th and V. The single most prevalent crime in the 13th and V area is auto theft, which will be addressed by the secure parking associated with the 13th and V development.

Countering the reported statements of Mr. Dickson, an objective analysis of the demographics, proposed lease, site location, zoning traffic patterns, visibility, parking, subway access, crime reports, community support, etc., would clearly support 13th and V as best for Fresh Fields and the District. By example, within a mile radius of the intersection of 13th and V there are 70,000 residents, with over 40 percent having an education. A mile radius of 15th and P is going to get you a big chunk of downtown, where there are not any residents. The count of commuters and pedestrians traversing the 13th and U Street corridors far outnumber 15th and P. Cardozo-Shaw is one the District’s hottest real estate markets. As previously stated, more crime is reported at 15th and P then at 13th and V.

What led from a letter of intent at 13th and V to a letter of intent at 15th and P was a final visit from Mackey, when he determined that, everything being equal, a 15th and P Street sight would be safer for consumers. Mackey has never lived or spent a lot of time in D.C. Subsequent to the decision by Mackey, I have been working, and encouraged others, to illustrate to Mackey that everything is not equal, consumers will feel safe, and there is more profit for Fresh Fields at 13th and V. Without a signed lease, there has been no final decision on a new site for Fresh Fields in the District.

Although City Paper felt best to misrepresent the facts regarding Fresh Fields and 13th and V, I encourage everyone involved (including Barnett and Fresh Fields) to take pride in your efforts to support the continued development of the District of Columbia. Be sure that City Paper (minus a more responsible attitude) will soon be bashing city officials for not doing enough to attract progressive companies to the city.

Chevy Chase

via the Internet