For years, Washingtonians who live east of the Anacostia River -- from Barry Farms and Congress Heights to Kenilworth and Deanwood -- have complained that as far as city government is concerned, they live in another town.
This week Mayor Marion Barry singled out Washington east of the river as the city's experimental laboratory in a once-a-week garbage pickup program.
O. V. Johnson, a Ward 8 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Anacostia, at the southernmost tip of the city, is adamantly against the proposed change. He and several other residents say their neighborhoods are already litter-strewn by people who could not manage to keep their garbage in cans for twice-weekly collections.
"I am against changing the system we have. If there is a cutback in trash pickups, it would litter the streets considerably. I'm opposed."
Johnson said he planned to work with other ANCs to see how they could keep the trash collection service they have.
The city plans to provide the households with free 82-gallon plastic garbage cans on wheels, and assign each a designated spot to roll the containers for the weekly trash pick up.
Barbara Hogan, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the solidly middle class Penn-Branch neighborhood, objected to the plan on other grounds. "I hate to see Barry cutting out trash collectors' jobs. They have always been the last resort for ex-convicts leaving Lorton.
"I's rather see him keep low-paying jobs rather than buying trash cans," she said.
The new trash collection program would cost the city $323,300 for 22,000 mobile plastic trash containers and lids. The District government would also buy 12 hoists, to empty the mobile trash containers, at a cost of $17,400.
Other residents said they were willing to accept the proposed garbage schedule change as long as their areas do not become cluttered with garbage, intensifying the rat problem, which in Anacostia rivals the worst in the city.
Jonathan Hopkins, of 1806 Morris Rd. SE, said the proposed system in itself doesn't bother him. "If the rats come," he said, "that will bother me.
The proposal to reduce trash collections was part of a $1.5 billion budget, the mayor announced this week. It calls for a number of other changes, including using private trash collectors in Wars 1 and 2, closing one hospital for the chronically ill and shutting down three health centers.
Scheduled for phasing out are: Glenn Dale Hospital and three health centers, Arthur Capper, 1011 Seventh St. SE; Parkside, 701 Kenilworth Ave. NE, and the Northwest, 1325 Upshur St. NW.
Residents interviewed in those areas felt strongly that their health centers should remain.
Ciola Jones, mother of four, who lives in Mayfair Mansions, a Northeast housing project near the Parkside center, said, "All of my daughters have gone to that health center. The next nearest place is at Hunt Place (at 45th Street and Hunt Place NE), and the wait is much too long."
Another mother, Anita Short, 34, who lives in Southeast also voiced her support of the Parkside facility, adding, "I will fight to keep it open."
Florence Thompson was particularly upset when told that Arthur Capper health center might close. "My children have seizures, and all of them have gone to Arthur Capper. The doctors are pretty good. I wouldn't want to see them shut it down for nothing."
The budget -- an 8 percent increase over last year's -- will also provide $11 million for repairs to public buildings and funding to repair broken gas lines in nine public housing projects.
Herbert Tucker, director of the Department of Environmental Services, said the proposed trash collection system would save District taxpayers an estimated $696,000 and cut 38 sanitation workers from the District payroll.
"We chose Wards 7 and 8 and portions of 6 east of the Anacostia River," according to Tucker, "because those alleys are paved and they are wide enough so our trucks can go down the alleys and our employes can work both sides."
Staff member, Bill Johnson, said that the choice of the communities east of Anacostia is not final and that other areas such as Spring Valley in Northwest could also be used in the experiment.
In Wards 1 and 2, close to the downtown area, the city will begin using private companies for trash collection. Johnson said this change will save the city up to 25 percent on its trash collection bills.
A staff member said Wards 1, which includes Mount Pleasant and Adams-Morgan, and 2, which encompasses Foggy Bottom and Dupont Circle, were chosen for the test program because they are downtown where there were fewer residential trash pickups. The areas have a concentration of offices and apartments which contract with private haulers.
If Glenn Dale Hospital, in Glenn Dale, Md., is closed, patients will be transferred to other facilities.
Of the threatened health centers, Dr. Raymond Standard, administrator for the Community Health and Hospital Administration, said they were chosen because of declining patient visits and duplication of medical services.
Standard said the Northwest Clinic is no longer needed because Change Inc. recently opened a federally funded health clinic six blocks away.
He said patient visits at Parkside and Arthur Capper health centers have declined from more than 10,000 each in 1977 to less than 8,500 and 7,000 respectively in 1979.
"It does not have to be these three centers," Mayor Barry said during the press conference announcing the budget, "but three health centers will have to close."
Barry said the city council members must find more money elsewhere if they choose to leave the centers open.