Many of us in Mount Pleasant were surprised by “Gate Expectations” (6/13), considering Washington City Paper regularly rakes our city government over the coals for failing to pick up trash, fight crime, and make Washington, D.C., livable. Thankfully, in the absence of a functioning government, citizens like Greg Nicklas sacrifice considerable personal and financial resources in the quest to transform our city into a safe one for children and families of all races and classes.

Those of us who live here know that, overnight, the gates of Urine Alley have eliminated the tumbleweeds of garbage and putrid smells that used to spew out onto our beloved Mount Pleasant Street. If the City Paper had taken care in its coverage, it would have reported that the house Nicklas owns facing urine alley was an abandoned, boarded-up crack house only one year ago, when he purchased it. Although Nicklas could barely afford it, he bought and renovated this house—a house that after years of neglect had layers upon layers of human feces and used needles, and that could accurately be described as “urine house.”

Vigilante do-gooder citizens like Greg Nicklas surely do not deserve the lashing of the City Paper, particularly such a poor journalistic lashing. Reporting controversy is good and to be expected by a newspaper. However, your article fails to quote any of the residents or business owners who actually face Urine Alley, aside from its one detractor. A short stroll from the City Paper offices to our neighborhood surely could have filled this gaping hole in the article.

Finally, the most unfortunate statement in “Gate Expectations” was the characterization of a clash between the “forces of gentrification” and a supposed “community identity” that makes our neighborhood “attractive in the first place.” The article implies that a “community identity” that includes public drunkenness, urination, violence, and drug dealing is acceptable to some portion of our residents, presumably the low- and middle-income, hard-working, mostly immigrant families who live here. Shame on the City Paper.

Mount Pleasant

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