D.C.'s Bogus Emergencies

I'm concerned that no agency in the D.C. government is monitoring the closing of streets and the posting of those absurd "emergency, no parking" signs around construction sites. It appears that the city has given carte blanche to builders to do what they want with our streets and the parking in our neighborhoods during construction.

I live around the Tivoli Theater construction area. The 3300 block of Holmead Place NW was closed to traffic during the day for a few weeks this summer for installation of new storm sewer tap-ins. That was necessary and understandable, and the neighbors didn't complain. But after that work was done, crews continued to close the street during the day so Holmead could be used for the parking convenience of workers on the job site. It should not have taken calls from citizens to stop the unnecessary and unauthorized closing of that street.

Currently, we have "emergency, no parking" signs posted in the 3300 block of Holmead Place NW. This "emergency" goes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting July 20 and ending Aug. 30, a 40-day period. That's an awfully long emergency.

Today, Wednesday, July 28, is the first day of construction. Despite the signs, the street is completely filled with parked cars. They aren't cars from the neighborhood; they are cars belonging to the construction workers.

First, I take issue with closing down the street for 12 hours each day over 40 days if there isn't active work occurring, and second, I feel that if the neighbors can't park there, then neither can the workers. Parking Enforcement needs to be out every day, several times each day, to ticket workers' cars, or the "no parking" signs need to come down.

The overriding problem is the apparent lack of control by the D.C. government over construction sites and the right to close down streets and take away parking. Right now, it appears that builders simply decide on their own when they want to close a street without having to get it cleared. The "emergency" signs that limit parking are a joke. Apparently, the D.C. government just gives major contractors an unlimited stack of them and lets them do as they please.

Get with it, D.C. Once again you're letting your citizens be abused, this time by builders. Other cities don't sacrifice the rights of their citizens with such reckless abandon. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though; we D.C. citizens are routinely treated as second-class individuals by both our local and our federal government.

Richard Greenaway

Columbia Heights

Slow Down the Lights

Some traffic lights on some District streets change too swiftly for pedestrian safety.

Every morning on my way to work I have to cross 12th Street near Federal Triangle. The walk signal gives me exactly 20 seconds to cross four lanes of traffic and two lanes of parked cars. Even if I step off the curb the moment the signal turns green, I can't make it all the way to the other curb in 20 seconds.

There is no island in the middle of the street where I can wait for the next light. If I find myself in the middle, I just have to walk as fast as I can to the other side.

I'm young and healthy, so walking fast or even running is usually not a problem, but I happen to be eight months pregnant, and I really can't run anymore. And what about all those other people who can't run, period: people walking with small children, people with injuries or disabilities, the elderly?

Twenty seconds is just not enough to cross a major street. It puts pedestrians in danger. People should be given at least 30 seconds to cross any street other than a narrow side street.

Galina Kolomietz

Woodley Park

Traveling in Style

It seems to make sense for D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) to make his trip to Ethiopia ["Traveling to Ethiopia for Clues About D.C.," Aug. 5 District Extra], and I'm glad that his multicultural and community relations director, Ted Loza, also is making the trip.

Loza says, "We intend to get immersed into the culture." So where do the free accommodations from Sheraton Hotels and Resorts fit in?

Philip H. Viles Jr.

Capitol Hill

What's the True Cost?

Thanks to Clarence Williams for his story ["D.C. to Share Horse Stable With U.S. Park Police," Aug. 5 District Extra] on the questionable decision by Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, former assistant chief Alfred J. Broadbent and police facilities manager Eric Coard to pump D.C. taxpayers' money into a federal facility while at the same time rejecting a city-owned (not to mention historic) site exactly suited for the mounted patrol.

What was not clear in the article, however, was the exact cost to D.C. taxpayers to proceed with Eric Coard's plan. The figure given, $500,000, was for the addition only, not for the total rehabilitation of the Fort Dupont facility. That figure could be more than double the stated amount, and we deserve to know just how much it will be.

It is also not clear why the D.C. police, and Mayor Williams for that matter, would not want to establish a secure police presence in a historic barn that must be restored (in accordance with a deal establishing the Unified Communications Center) with funds already available. The money to stabilize the cavalry barn does not come from D.C. taxpayers. The barn's roof has needed repairs for years. What does it take to get our government to put two and two together and get something right for a change?

What is wrong with this scenario? The barn has a mandate to be restored with private funds, in the bank, waiting to be used; the city's mounted patrol needs a home; D.C. taxpayers are not footing the bill; and we are coughing up $500,000 (at a minimum) for someone else's property! That money could buy an awful lot of horse feed, but I fear we are actually getting a load of something entirely different.

Stephen Ortado

President, Friends of the

St. Elizabeths Cavalry Barn

North Cleveland Park