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Library Drives Wedge Into SW Community

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Neighborhood activist Karlene Armstead is opposed to the construction of a new Washington Highlands Library in Ward 8.
David Schultz
Neighborhood activist Karlene Armstead is opposed to the construction of a new Washington Highlands Library in Ward 8.

By David Schultz

Things are winding down here at Washington Highlands Library, a 60-year-old building servicing one of the poorest areas in D.C. The library will close tomorrow so it can be bulldozed and replaced by a new, modern facility.

Outside, a small group of protesters are demonstrating. The protesters, including long-time resident Theresa Howe-Jones, say the design submitted by architect David Adjaye will destroy the character of the neighborhood.

"The current design that David Adjaye gave us looks nothing like any building you see in this community," says Howe-Jones.

Ward eight resident Dionne Brown thinks that's a good thing. "There's nothing in this neighborhood that excites me," she says, "not even my own house." "It's very attractive and, by far, will be a stunning addition to our neighborhood, which hasn't seen any real new development in probably about 40 years," says Brown, who leads the group Friends of Washington Highlands Library.

The new library is set to open in early 2011.

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