Buses that run infrequently and are so crowded many passengers have to stand. Supermarkets with empty shelves. A lot of crime and few police. Streets clogged with commuter traffic. Recreation areas that are too far for kids to walk to and used mainly by dope peddlars. Frequent electrical blackouts. No place to park at night.
Such was the catalog of woes residents of the Fairlawn section of Anacostia recited to the D.C. Zoning Commission last week -- problems Fair lawn residents say will get worse if developer Edward Tiffey is allowed to build a 115-unit condominium project on the now vacant site of the Rupert Home for the Aged at 22nd Street and T Place SE.
Edward C. Steward, president of the Fairlawn Citizens Association, predicted the complex would bring more people and more cars to the area and increase crime and pollution and strain already overtaxed city services.
"It will destroy Fairlawn with an increase in crime and traffic, and cause middle-class working people to leave the city. Don't let it happen," pleaded Steward.
"This is a stable neighborhood of concerned homeowners interested in the upkeep and beautification of their homes," said Wendell Wallace of 1934 Good Hope Rd. SE.
To illustrate his point, Wallace showed slides of the neat brick houses -- semidetached and triplexes -- of Fairlawn. Then he showed slides of the Fort Lincoln complex, which Tiffey has told the neighborhood is a project similar to the one he proposes to build.
"That's not what we want in our neighborhood," said Wallace. Wallace presented a sketch showing 50 semidetached houses on the site -- a plan that would need no zoning change and which the Fairlawn residents at the hearing said they would favor.
According to the developer, such homes would have to sell for more than $100,000, and would probably not find buyers. Units in the proposed Ruppert Commons condominium complex would sell for an average of $65,000, according to Tiffey.
City officials have called for changes in certain aspects of Tiffey's proposal -- including an expanded recreation area, a better landscaping plan and an erosion control program. Barry administration official James O. Gibson has recommended the developer be allowed to submit a revised proposal for a condominium complex. Neighborhood opponents of the plan say they will not accept any development other than single-family semidetached homes.
"This is not a neighborhood that needs condominiums," testified Elizabeth Hassler, a 40-year resident and one of a minority of elderly whites in the area.
Fairlawn, approximately bounded by Good Hope Road, Fairlawn Avenue, Naylor Road and Fort Stanton Park, was a wooded area used by the A. Guide Sons Inc. nurseries until the 1930s, when semidetached homes and triplexes were built there. In the early 1960s, several apartment buildings, including the high-rise 600-unit Marbury Plaza were built on the edge of Fairlawn. According to Fairlawn residents, the apartments brought soil erosion, increased crime, traffic and parking problems. They claim that Ruppert Commons would make matters worse.
Despite all the problems cited by Fairlawn residents, they made it clear they love their neighborhood.
"Many people think Anacostia is just a lot of slums, but we think a lot of our community," said John Yates of 1919 T Place SE. "It's not Spring Valley or Cleveland Park or Wesley Heights but we love it."
The zoning commission is expected to decide the fate of Ruppert Commons at a meeting in Room 11A of the District Building June 12 at 1:30 p.m.