Editor’s note: This piece was written in response to Mark Lee’s Nov. 17 column titled, “Dupont denizens doth protest too much.”
As a gay board member of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association and a proponent of small business in Dupont Circle, I find your commentary a bit pejorative and divisive. Your use of “gay-owned” and “gay Dupont Circle ANC area commissioner” for individuals who represent “your side” tacitly implies that DCCA is somehow anti-gay. As one of two openly gay members of the DCCA board, I want to make it very clear that this is not the case, and your attempt to paint us as such is untrue. DCCA has many gay members, and every Gay Pride parade in my memory has included DCCA proudly marching among the participants.
Secondly, none of the current board members (10 of us) had anything to do with the application that the B&B filed in 2001, some 10 years ago. Even if we had, should we step away from opposing the cutting of three mature trees and the paving of an entire front lawn of a historic mansion? To focus on the years-old debate over expanding the B&B misses the mark and ignores the facts surrounding the embassy’s failure to follow required procedures, in essence giving the Republic of Congo a pass for their misdeeds.
DCCA cares about the citizens and businesses that make up this neighborhood. It is a difficult balance, and I will be the first to admit that DCCA has not always gotten it right. Despite these differences of opinion, DCCA has done much to improve the neighborhood since its founding in 1922. In fact without the efforts of DCCA in years past, we might not have this wonderful neighborhood to enjoy. What if DCCA had not stood up to the business interests of the past who wanted to build high volume freeways through our neighborhood? Ever hear of the proposed “inner beltway” along U Street and the freeway down Connecticut Avenue? What if DCCA had not stopped the destruction of historic townhomes throughout the neighborhood by helping to establish historic districts and the Dupont Conservancy? And what if DCCA had not fought for more crime prevention efforts during the drug wars of the 1990s? Where would your businesses be now? In Maryland or Virginia?
Currently, DCCA is working on parks and environmental issues around the Circle. This past year, DCCA created a tree-watering program during the dry summer months and is a significant partner with Casey Trees to plant trees in Dupont. DCCA has also raised funds to support a number of local community efforts. Recipients of DCCA charitable donations this year include: Casey Trees, Dupont Circle Village, Dupont Festival, the Green Door, Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets (Clean Teams), Whitman-Walker Health, the Historic Medallion program and the Urban Neighborhood Alliance‘s 17th Street Festival.
DCCA has historically led the way in protecting this unique and historically beautiful neighborhood. Yes, we support our local and national businesses, but they do not always come first. We represent the citizens of this neighborhood, and most times we get it right. This protest was one of those times.
Doug Rogers is a DCCA board member and has lived in Dupont Circle since 1998. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.