Finally, the public is getting aggressive, factually based investigative reporting on the proposed Washington gentrification—oops—I mean “convention” center at Mount Vernon Square (“When Pigs Fly,” 1/9). Opponents of this boondoggle, both within Shaw and throughout the city (and Schaffer’s article makes it clear that this is definitely not just a Shaw issue), have been frustrated for months by the inattention given the project and the myths surrounding it.

Perhaps the easiest myth to dispel is that the opposition consists of “two or three” persons. Numerous Shaw residents, civic groups, and ANCs from across the city, and the D.C. Statehood and Green Parties, are all opposed to the project, and the numbers are growing.

The comments of the two prominent convention center proponents quoted in Schaffer’s article are quite telling. Regarding some of the unanswered parking and congestion concerns, ANC Commissioner Rodney Foxworth tosses out the issue of affordable housing in Shaw, saying that, compared to this, “Who gives a shit about parking and transportation?” Well, if Foxworth did a little less shilling for the Convention Center Authority and got out among his constituents more, he’d find that they actually give a shit about quite a number of things that concern them. Parking is one of them, and affordable housing is certainly another, and both would suffer from the convention center.

Another proponent, Francesca Dixon, envisions a Georgetownlike neighborhood complete with “a bakery,” “a family restaurant,” and “a bagel store.” All well and good, but if, as Foxworth suggests, Shaw is under such a state of siege that residents don’t care about parking issues, then they certainly aren’t bemoaning the fact that they have no place to sip latte and munch croissants on Sunday mornings.

Why can’t we have a neighborhood with park and recreation space, a Shaw history museum, a recreation center, affordable health clinics (one is shutting down thanks to the convention center), affordable housing, urban gardens, locally owned businesses paying living wages, etc? These projects create jobs, stimulate the economy, decrease the crime rate, and increase the quality of life. That’s the vision convention center opponents have—one that simply sees us as owners of and stakeholders in the neighborhood, rather than an inconvenience to be pushed aside for the sake of developers.


via the Internet