Residents in the 400 block of 16th Street SE met this week to discuss neighborhood problems they say they have tried without success to get city officials to correct.
Of foremost concern, they said, is a request made by the president of the group. John T. Baysmore, to the D.C. Department of Transportation. Last summer Baysmore directed a letter to Mayor Walter E. Washington asking that four-way stop signs be placed at intersections on 16th Street between D and E streets. Residents want the signs to control speeders, many of whom enter the narrow, two-way residential street from the nearby Sousa Bridge on Pennsylvania Avenue, they said.
They request, said Baysmore, was directed to DOT. In a memo to the mayor, a copy of which was also forwarded to Baysmore, DOT director Douglas N. Schneider Jr. advised Washington that four-way stop signs were normally used as traffic regulators, not speed controls. Schneider also said that the traffic at the intersections, which already have stop signs on D and E streets, was not heavy or dangerous enough to warrant stop signs on 16th Street.
Residents contend, however, that parked cars have been hit recently by motorists who speed down the street.
"People drop off that highway (Sousa Bridge) at 55 miles per hour and they come around here at 55 miles per hour, "said Joshua Reed, a 16th Street resident.
Following the DOT denial, block club members collected the signatures of 270 area residents asking for signs. They also contacted their then campaigning City Council member, Nadine Winter (D-Ward 5).
A copy of the petition and a list of citizen complaints was hand delivered to Winter. Resident Evelyn Washington recalled that Winter promised to look into the matter immediately, but community group members said they have received no further comment from her.
Lt. Robert N. Torres, with the First District sub-station, said he also favored having signs at the intersections.
Neither Schneider nor Winter could be reached for comment.
"The general attitude of most people, not only in this block but other blocks around, is that the reaction from downtown was not going to be favorable," said resident Dennis Dolinger. "They don't think people (downtown) care about them.
"This (getting the stop signs) is important. It would show the community that this block club has (accomplished) something dealing with the government," he added.
The 400 Block Club of 16th Street SE was begun by Evelyn Washington nine months ago "as a community effort to unify ourselves and beautify our neighborhood," she said.
Within that time, neighbors have joined in clean-up campaigns, rodent control, beautification projects, and have given Thanksgiving food baskets to the needy.
But the residents' efforts alone are not enough.
Resident Mary Braxton said the neighborhood streets are swept irregularly and litter clogs sewers. The alley alongside her house is a gravely, dirt road that becomes a bog when it rains and a dustbowl during the summer, she said.
Where do they go from here? The residents said they would now appeal to incoming Mayor Marion Barry.