There is an area of Southeast Washington where brick and stone homes once faced an enchanced forest of poplar and oak, where a natural spring once bubbled forth a quiet creek for birds to bathe and squirrels to play in while neighborhood children watched from behind drapes of moss.
The land has been owned for the last 10 years by a man named Andrew God Jr. In 1974 he began to endure the wrath of residents living next to his wonderland when he began turning it into a dump. Using bulldozers and dump trucks, God cut down all of the trees, covered up the natural spring and began allowing hundreds of vehicles to unload tons excavated dirt, concrete an dtrash on the nine oblong acres at Austin and 28th streets SE.
"Oh, God, no," Mrs. Aaron Woods recalled saying when she learned that the forest that lined her backyard, a major reason for buying the house at 2823 Akron St. SE, was going to be destroyed.
To the dozen or so families whose houses border both sides of this one time Garden of Eden, the place now looks like hell.
Swamp weeds grow in muddy puddles in Donald Clark's backyard. It seems that the natural spring is beginning to relocate, lossening the roots of the few trees that remain on residential property, causing them to sway and blow over during high winds.
Instead of awakening to the chirps of robins and orioles that lived in the bird houses set up for them, Clark rises to the smell of exhaust fumes and the nerve racking howl of John Deere earth movers and shakers.
Where he once reclined in his backyard beneath 100-foot tall trees swaying in a gentle breeze, Clark now spits with disgust at the sight of a mountain of trash that rises above his dining room window.
The landfill rises so high that, even though the property is located near the Prince George's County line, a person standing atop the trash heap can see clearly Robert F. Kennedy Stadium two miles away.
On Wednesday, the city joined Southeast residents in a suit against God and his company, the Northgate Corporation, which hauls and dumps excavated dirt. The suit allerges that God has disregarded several notices to correct soil erosion and remove dirt that has been dumped on public and private property.
The suit asks that Northgate be put out of the dumping business and that damaged public property be restored to its original condition.
God, who lives in Fairfax County was not available for comment, no was his lawyer, Francis Murphy, a former corporation counsel for the District of Columbia.
"We've been trying for years, but it just doesn't seem like nobody can beat God," Clark said.
"I don't have nothing against God," said Aaron Woods. "It's his property. He can obviously do with it what he pleases."
According to Mrs. Woods, local residents encircled God's acres with their automobiles to keep the tractors out when the cutting began.
"When we moved down from outside of Baltimore, we saw this area and it was just what we wanted," Woods recalled. "It was so thick out back it was like a big green wall. You couldn't even tell you were right in the middle of (shopping centers, commerical establishments).
The night after Southeast resident broke their circle of cars, Woods recalled, God's crew went to work.
"I guess that's life," Woods said, looking dejectedly at his string bean patch smashed flat by a fallen tree. "These kinds of things you try not to worry about because you can't change them. We worked hard to get this house, so its frustrating, yeah. But we just try to move on. I don't want to take God to court, I just want my garden back," he said.