An Anacostia neighborhood leader charged District Mayor Marion Barry last night with doing "more for Georgetown" than for his impoverished area in street, sidewalk and other infrastructure repairs. But Barry disputed the allegation, asserting that his administration has done more for Anacostia than any other in the last 25 years.
The exchange between Barry and Louis Zapata, vice chairman of the Frederick Douglass Community Improvement Council, took place at a community meeting at Anacostia Senior High School and was one of several that featured complaints from Anacostians that the city neglects their neighborhood.
Zapata and others among the 75 persons who attended cited needs in education, economic development and crime fighting for Anacostia and sought new commitments of funds from the mayor.
Barry countered that "relatively speaking" the District government is doing more for Anacostia than for higher-income areas such as Georgetown. "There is more going on east of the Anacostia River than in Ward 3 in terms of streets and sidewalks."
Barry, responding to questions from the crowd, many of whom are D.C. government workers, struck a theme of his own when he repeatedly reminded residents that in educating young people and fighting crime they bear a responsibility equal to the government's. "It's a two-way street," he said.
The mayor, who has spoken frequently in recent months on issues related to Anacostia, was joined on stage by several top government aides, including Curtis McClinton, deputy mayor for economic development, and Audrey Rowe, commissioner of social services.
Barry restated his commitment to extend the Metro subway's Green Line to Anacostia, despite reports that federal funding cutbacks could jeopardize its construction. Also, responding to a suggestion that the University of the District of Columbia establish a satellite campus on the site of St. Elizabeths Hospital, the mayor said he favored the idea of a community college in the area.
Frieda Murray, chairwoman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C, a sponsor of the gathering, expressed disapproval of a planned birth control counseling clinic at the high school. Barry did not comment directly on the plan, saying he supports contraception for young people but would prefer that they avoid sex before marriage.