When Ralph Timbers moved to the 1200 block of E Street NE five years ago, one of the principal attractions was the quiet atmosphere of the neighborhood.
And, Timbers recalled yesterday, neighbors knew one another and children played together along the sidewalk and in the alley across the street from his home.
Seldom was there much noise.
But all that has changed since his neighbor, Marion S. Barry, became mayor. Now, Timbers said, he frequently is awakened at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning by sputtering police radios. The children have been chased out of the alley by police assigned to patrol Barry's neighborhood. And residents have been told they cannot double park on the street to unload groceries.
"They're creating a problem here," Timbers said. "I was here before the mayor. I don't look for a whole lot of harassment because the mayor lives here."
"The officers are not supposed to be a hindrance or a harassment," Barry said yesterday.
"I told the chief to have the officers on the street put earphones in their radios," the mayor said. "I also understand that they had been asking kids not to play in the alley. I'm opposed to that. Those kids have been playing in the alley for years."
Barry, who moved into the two-story row house at 1236 E St. NE almost two years ago, said, "The neighbors appreciate having them [police officers] there, but understandably don't appreciate the noise."
Timbers and neighbors interviewed along the 1200 block of E Street NE agreed.
Barry's neighbors are mostly home-owners in the 55-years-plus age group. They live in two-story row houses with wooden porches and front yards. There are no driveways, and the curblines at the street -- the only available parking places -- are clogged with cars at night.
"I'm really proud that he [the mayor] lives in the neighborhood," said Clifton Derrington of 1242 E St.
Derrington, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1950, said that "you can leave your car doors unlocked and don't have to worry about anybody bothering with it."
But Derrington's wife, who babysits during the day, said often when parents come to pick up their children, officers tell them they cannot double park in the block.
"You can't [double] park long enough to get the groceries out of the car," Timbers said as he stood on the front steps of his two-story home. "Yet 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning, you have police cars double parked out here."
"My friends are paranoid about coming over," said Donald Brooks, 26, of 1223 E St. "They see all the police around. You can't even beep your horn without sombody saying something."
Deputy Police Chief Carl Profater, in whose district Barry lives, said an ear plug has been provided for offi- cers on patrol in the mayor's block during evening and night hours.
"If I get an ear infection, someone's going to hear about it," said one officer patrolling the residence yesterday.
Capt. Clarence E. Dickerson, who issued an order in response to the complaints, said juveniles would not be asked to leave the alley "unless they threaten the security of the mayor or a complaint has been lodged by a resident of the neighborhood."
Dickerson further ordered that traffic enforcement in the block "shall not be [emphasized] unless [a violation] is of a flagrant nature or unduly impedes the normal flow of traffic."
Brooks, an Army veteran, said he sympathizes with the officers who have to patrol the mayor's home. The officers are not allowed to chew, eat or read on patrol.
"It's a boring job for them," Brooks noted.