Mayor Vincent Gray helped open a newly rebuilt New York Avenue playground, then quickly found himself responding to neighbors concerned about a nearby abandoned library. News4's Tom Sherwood reports.
The reopening of a rebuilt D.C. playground Wednesday drew attention to a nearby abandoned library that neighbors said is used as a drug den that discourages the use of the playground.
Wednesday's event at the playground near Dunbar High School in Northwest was an opportunity for Mayor Vincent Gray to praise renewal in a neighborhood he once called his own.
But neighbors said the adjacent abandoned building is more than a homeless eyesore for parents.
“Guys come back there, they do everything that they can do if they’re homeless and on drugs, whatever,” said Ray Valentine, a 30-year resident of the neighborhood. “You can go back there and see that, and this is nightly. This is not just an occasional occurrence.”
“They’re smoking pot, drinking, and it keeps kids away from the park, so it can squander this big investment that the city made,” eight-year resident Joseph Foti said.
They said police occasionally show up, but not enough to get rid of the squatters and drug deals. Gray said he won’t let it stay that way.
“We don't want anything that we’ve done here to be detracted from by virtue of an eyesore or nuisance that is adjacent to this,” he said.