About 65 members of the upper Shaw community met for two hours at Walker night to hear city officials and Metro representatives assure them that plans to begin construction on Metro's Green Line are actually progressing.
But while officials unfurled colorful maps to support their claims that the Green Line is "definitely" on its way, the audience, comprised largely of senior citizens, sat passively perplexed, many of them unconvinced by the speakers' confidence.
"I'm hoping it won't affect church property," said Lisa Johnson, who took notes on behalf of the Star of Bethlehem Church of God and Christ, on 11th St NW, "I'm not too clear on whether it will or not."
"I think they're working toward it each day; I think they're waiting for the time," said Inez Drummer, a resident of 13th Street NW. "I'll be glad to see it come."
Losie York, also of 13th St., said, "Well, I think they're trying; I just don't know when it's going to happen."
The 18.86-mile Green Line, which so far exists only as a stretch of slashed green and yellow lines on the subway wall maps, is supposed to connect Anocostia with Greenbelt, Md., winding through Shaw, Petworth, Columbia Heights and other disadvantaged and working class areas. But although proponents of the line argued that it should be built first, until recently the Green Line was last on the construction list, leading some city residents to fear that the line would never be built.
Sharing those fears, D.C. officials pressured thr Metro board at a meeting in December, threatening to withhold funding until a construction schedule more favorable to the Green Line was renegotiated. Although the Metro board agreed that to push the line up in priority, the incident was only the latest example of snafus and politicking that have slowed its consturction. t
"Every time we tried to draw a (construction) line we had citizens arguing, 'Don't take Mrs. Jones' house, take Sam Green's, he wasn't at the Meeting.' Then, we'd have another metting and Sam Greene would show up and say, 'Don't take my house, take Mrs. Jones,''" said William Fauntroy, drawing laughs and the little audience response of the evening. Fauntroy, elder brother of Del. Walter Fauntroy, spoke as an urban specialist for Metro.
Except for trips to the maps displayed around the pulpit, the speakers sat in wooden chairs beneath the stares from portraits of Jesus and John the Baptist. The speakers, Ward 1 Council Member David Clarke, Fauntroy, Delabian Rice-Thurston and Ray Skinner from the Office of Planning and Development, and Gary Altman, from the City Council's Committee on Transportation, were allowed a five-minute presentation each, and time to answer questions from the audience.
Members of the audience asked few questions but expressed concern about displacement, the loss of local businesses and the onslaught of speculators due to increased real estate prices.