Some in Shaw Would Rather See Dog Park Than Parking Lot in Neighborhood

By Yamiche Alcindor
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 13, 2009

District officials say the empty lot in Jessica Aho's Shaw neighborhood is a perfect spot for extra parking for a new city-owned office building. Shaw wants a dog park to replace the overgrown weeds, discarded trash and dirty concrete in the 400 block of P Street NW.

"I think it would bring a lot more people into the neighborhood," Aho told city officials at a meeting last week. "When you have more pedestrian traffic, then you're going to have a lot more people who are aware of who belongs in the neighborhood versus people who are selling drugs or don't belong in the neighborhood."

Dorris Brooks, who also lives in Shaw, said that city leaders never made their plan for a parking lot clear at previous meetings and fears that it will add more problems to an area already affected by drug dealers and violence.

"Nobody has asked anybody in the neighborhood," Brooks said.

"This was done without the knowledge of the people in the neighborhood who should have been informed. And this happens all the time. And right now, we're tired of it."

Robin-Eve Jasper, director of the city's Office of Property Management, said that it was unclear whether the original plans included the parking lot but that the plans are now firm. The lot is adjacent to the future home of the D.C. Children's Advocacy Center. But, she said, "We think there is room for more than a parking lot."

Aho is cautiously optimistic of a compromise.

"I hope that the community leaders can work with the community to come to a resolution that will appease all members of the neighborhood," she said.

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