A D.C. Superior Court judge visited the northeast D.C. neighborhood where residents are fighting the building of a bus depot near the an historic school.
The Alexander Crummell School near Okie and Kendall streets, built in 1911 and abandoned in 1980, is on the register of historic places, but its expansive yard off New York Avenue is being paved over for the District to use as a tour bus parking lot beginning in March.
Neighbors -- some who went to the school -- want a job center and community place for the mostly poor and struggling Ivy City neighborhood. They've gone to court to block the parking project.
“We were to get the building ready for the neighborhood,” said 82-year-old Remetter Freeman, who graduated from the school in 1941 and helped get it on the historic register. “We wanted to put in job training, lots of things. For the kids, a library.”
“There's a lot of people around here that are sick and have respiratory problems,” former student Jeannette Carter said. “Then there're the little kids. They don't have nowhere to play but in the street. And when I was going to school, we used to have fun right there in the evenings and stuff, all kinds of programs and things we had to do.”
D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Macaluso took a walking tour of the area to see what neighbors are complaining about. The suit in part alleges the city failed to follow city laws and the heavy bus exhaust is unsafe.
“The city government hasn't done anything by way of surveys, assessing the problem in the community,” lawyer Johnny Barnes said. “People have lived here forever, and they've just been dumping on them because they're low income and they haven't voted in the past.”
Neighbors and activists say there's already too much industrial use in a neighborhood where about 1,200 people struggle to live every day.