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South Manor Neighbors Oppose Site For Metro Crash Memorial

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This park on the corner of South Dakota and New Hampshire Avenues NE was supposed to be the eventual home of a Metro memorial to the victims of the 2009 crash, but some neighbors are voicing opposition.
DC Arts
This park on the corner of South Dakota and New Hampshire Avenues NE was supposed to be the eventual home of a Metro memorial to the victims of the 2009 crash, but some neighbors are voicing opposition.

A plan to establish a memorial to the victims of the 2009 Metrorail Red Line accident has concerned residents who live near the proposed site. They say it will attract more criminals to an area police do not patrol.

A few weeks ago, the D.C. Commission on the Arts asked architects to bid on the $200,000 design for a permanent memorial to the nine people who died in the 2009 Metrorail Red line crash. Officials had planned a walking tour of the site for the memorial, located near the corner of New Hampshire and South Dakota avenues NE just steps from where that fatal crashed happened. 

But that tour was abruptly cancelled, after some residents of the South Manor Neighborhood Association indicated they don't want the memorial in their front yards. The residents have written to the mayor and their councilwoman Muriel Bowser telling them exactly that, according to Richard Lambert, one of the association's officers.

The 70 or so homeowners say the site would generate too much noise, traffic and parking congestion and potentially increase crime. "Problems that already exist will be further exacerbated," wrote Allison Brooks, secretary of the association. "At present, we are struggling to address the problem of sexual activity in the neighborhood. Benches in a park setting could encourage increased activity."

Neighbors claim D.C. police won't patrol federal land, and the U.S. park police don't provide enough patrols. They fear little security and a memorial park with benches would allow the criminal element to hijack the park, and take their South Manor neighborhood with it.

Phylis Wheat says neighbors voted unanimously against the facility: "It would just encourage the prostitutes, the drug addicts to have an area where they could come, they could congregate."

It would also take away a piece of public land that the neighborhood has been using for years as an impromptu gathering place for barbecues and other neighborhood activities.

The city is promising to review plans and says it could move the memorial to another site, according to the Examiner. The memorial is expected to cost $1 million. Residents say they are still waiting for an official response from the city.

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