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GATEWAYS OF DOOM!

*He-Man knows how to handle a few barbarians at the gate, and so does Penn Branch. I hope.

The delay in development at our delightfully decrepit Penn Branch Center, at the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues, is very frustrating to me.

Though, in mere days, it will have been an entire year since construction was to begin on our shopping center, nothing resembling upgrades and infusions of new, dynamic retail has been initiated. Check the websites of the Penn Branch Civic Association website (on your left) and of ICG Properties, and you will not find news of any significant developments for PBC.

We have THREE gateway areas developing in the River East area, each fully-loaded with upscale condos and retail, and I worry Penn Branch, virtually unchanged since the 80s, will soon fall behind in how efficiently the city delivers vital services. With the explosion of commercial and residential development on Martin Luther King Avenue, Howard Road and coming soon to Barry Farm, generating tax revenue for the District that Penn Branch cannot match, I do not see how our community will keep its footing with the Public Works people, downtown.

When the next hurricane or really, really bad thunderstorm or blizzard knocks out the power on Carpenter Street (our main artery) and my mother's stretch of Pope Street, and we are waiting a week or longer for restoration, while Uniontown Anacostia is miraculously lit up like Nationals Stadium, within a few hours of suffering a power failure of its own, ..I think Penn Branch will recognize that its once prized position on this side of the river is a thing of the past.

I don't want to entertain, in a neighborhood with so many elderly and retired citizens--some of whom, live with great health-related challenges--what kind of problems the gateway-related changes will create, with respect to police and emergency response. This could prove a life and death situation.

Heads-up, Fairfax Village. I have a condo, there.

This [Brancher] is worried, and I think all of us in Penn Branch should be worried. I think we need a big, chalk-white government monolith, where PBC's parking lot presently is, to keep us on the map.

It took me years to understand why my Penn Branch neighbors so adamantly fought the installation of a Burger King and other Big Retail in Penn Branch. They werer protecting our neighborhood from high taxes, crime and other bumps in the road. I am not so sure how long we can afford to lockout significant development with the consequences for not being compettitive, dire and life-changing consequences, on the horizon.

Mel Dyer

*He-Man is a trademark of the Mattel Corporation.

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