Foul Truth Behind Trash

Bob Levey's lighthearted article "For Growing Youths, Treasures in the Trash" [District Extra, Sept. 2] does several Washington communities a disservice. While concentrating on the "treasure in the trash" theme, Levey managed to sidestep the serious issues that trash transfer stations pose for communities in Wards 5, 7 and 8, and for the city as a whole.

The city's failure to enforce its own regulations on transfer stations in those areas afflicts neighbors with the blighting effects of vermin, foul odors and heavy traffic most days of the week. Some of their houses cannot be sold because of those effects.

Levey writes that the city sends trash from private homes to a processing plant outside the city.

Actually, residential trash, including garbage, is dumped unceremoniously onto the floor of transfer stations and loaded, sloppily, into larger trucks for hauling to a landfill in southern Virginia.

Levey should read the report of the Solid Waste Transfer Facility Site Selection Advisory Panel, issued pursuant to D.C. Law 12-286.

Dorn C. McGrath Jr.

Former Chairman

Solid Waste Transfer Facility Site Selection Advisory Panel

Forest Hills

Reducing Teen Pregnancy

For far too long, Washington has had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. Each year there have been enough pregnant teens to fill more than two dozen school buses.

Although most District residents believe that things are going pretty well these days in the city, they feel that children and teens are being left behind. Teen pregnancy ranks among their top concerns. Indeed, they are almost as concerned about teen pregnancy as they are about drugs, violence and poor public schools. D.C. residents also feel that beyond parents and teens themselves, schools are the most important factor in preventing pregnancy.

As Clifford B. Janey takes over as superintendent of schools, we hope he will involve schools in sexuality education. It is already mandated for grades K-12 in the District, but there is no curriculum for teaching this crucial subject.

If reducing teen pregnancy sounds like a tall order for a school system with so much on its plate, consider this sobering reality: Children of teen parents are very likely to become teen parents themselves.

On the other hand, school success from an early age helps protect children from a wide range of troubles, including teen pregnancy. When children feel connected to their schools and teachers, that sense of belonging protects them from teen pregnancy as well.

With the many daunting challenges facing Dr. Janey, it is possible that he will not realize that many people of goodwill in the youth-serving community are eager to offer support and encouragement. We want to help him be successful because we know the vital role education should play in the lives of D.C.'s children.

George L. Garrow Jr.

Executive Director

National Organization of Concerned Black Men Inc.

Angela M. Jones

Executive Director

D.C. Action for Children

Lori Kaplan

Executive Director

Latin American Youth Center

Loral Patchen

Executive Director

Teen Alliance for Prepared

Parenting at Washington Hospital Center

Brenda Rhodes Miller

Executive Director

DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Unruly Children Near Club

I have lived next door to the Boys and Girls Club at 14th and Clifton Streets NW for nearly three years.

Although I applaud the efforts of Bernardo Jiminez and other staff members who work with the children daily, there are many other children and teens who, residents of my building have been told, are not allowed in the club because of bad behavior. Instead, they hang out in the parking lot, throwing rocks at passersby (including a pregnant woman recently trying to walk down Clifton Street) and cars. They vandalize nearby buildings and yell threats at those who drive by.

I have seen and experienced this firsthand and have called the police on more than a few instances. Once I called the police when I could not even drive down the street. It was blocked by a group of nearly 20 kids throwing rocks at cars. I called again last week when kids hanging out behind the club building (still inside the fence) broke my sliding glass door by throwing large rocks at my balcony.

I do not call the police for trivial matters, although we often see children throwing their trash on the ground outside the club. Residents of my building often clean the area surrounding the club because maintenance by the city is sporadic. The grounds are often overgrown and strewn with trash, liquor bottles and piles of rocks.

I rarely see adults at the club, and the staff seems overwhelmed by the number of unsupervised children.

Gentrification is happening, and there are painful divisions in my neighborhood. We newer residents are not unfeeling and not uninvolved with the local community. My building holds meetings in the Boys and Girls Club, volunteers throughout the neighborhood and is active in dealing with crime and other local issues.

Monica Testa

Columbia Heights