Dorothy Douglas serves as an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Deanwood. (Courtesy photo)
Dorothy Douglas serves as an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Deanwood. (Courtesy photo)

The ongoing conflict between the District government and a developer versus a group of Deanwood residents who oppose a new firehouse being built within yards of their residential community continues even as the facility prepares for opening later this month.

A newly built Engine Company 27, located at 4409 Minnesota Avenue NE, tentatively will open in the middle of March, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Management Services, told The Informer. The spokesman said the new facility has been built with the consultation of the nearby neighborhood.

“We have had extensive community outreach and we are providing a firehouse the community deserves,” the spokesman said.

However, Dorothy Douglas, who serves as the advisory neighborhood commissioner for district 7D03, opposes the firehouse saying that through the years, the District government hasn’t been forthcoming to the community about what it wants to do with the property.

“We were told years ago by the development company, Valor, that the property would be used to build townhomes and we in the community supported that,” Douglas said.

“However, several years ago, Valor changed direction and decided to build the firehouse. Our problem is that Valor and the District government hasn’t approached the neighborhood about this. The 7D advisory neighborhood commission wasn’t consulted about the change in usage, as it is supposed to be under the law. In addition, the proper environmental studies haven’t been conducted by the city to determine whether the materials that the firehouse and its adjoining facilities that will house fire trucks are free from contamination.”

The Deanwood residents are represented by attorney Jane Zara. The residents have sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) to halt the opening of the facility and has appeared before D.C. Associate Superior Court Judge Kelly A. Higashi to have it granted.

Higashi hasn’t granted the TRO so far and on Feb. 24, the residents appeared before D.C. Associate Superior Court Judge Todd E. Edelman for a motion hearing. The next court date will be March 11, Zara said.

Deborah Brown, who lives on the same block as Douglas, has become frustrated with the ongoing litigation in court and the District government’s inattentiveness to her neighbors’ concerns.

“To me this is underhanded,” Brown said. “The firehouse is too close to the houses here and it is located close to railroad tracks whose trains sometimes carry hazardous materials. We have received information there are contaminants in the ground there and some of our residents suffer from asthma. There is also the problem of parking. People who visit or work at the firehouse site park in front of our houses and we have no place to put our cars.

“Plus, we have not been informed about this whole process by the D.C. government or the developer. Why didn’t they rebuild Engine Company 27 where it is now on Minnesota Avenue and move the Exxon station there for its expansion? The reason is the District government and Valor feel they can do whatever they want to our neighborhood and we can’t do anything about it.”

Lauren King, a housing attorney, also lives on Douglas’s block. King, who happens to be white, agrees with her neighbors that the process of building the new firehouse has been unfair.

“We are newcomers to the neighborhood,” King said. “My husband and I moved here in August 2019. As new Ward 7 residents, we see how Wards 7 and 8 are treated differently from every other ward in the city. The neighborhood should have been consulted about the new firehouse. Mayor Bowser should come talk to the citizens about this.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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1 Comment

  1. This article, and the people quoted in it, are beyond stupid. How can you complain that the space is “too close to the railroad tracks” and that there are “contaminants” in the ground, but then say in the same breath that you want townhomes built there instead. So you want even more humans there to deal with the noise of the subway and the pollution in the earth? Someone make it make sense!

    Deanwood has been a cesspool for many years and filled with crime (there are still shootings here every week, by the way). Now that we have a positive staple being built in the town, along with revitalization and community resources, you have complete buggers like Dorothy Douglas trying to oppose positive progress.

    Get out of here. You don’t speak for Deanwood at all.

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