Blagden Alley Naylor Court Association in Ongoing Discussions With Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto in Efforts to Preserve Blagden Alley

The association continues its proactive approach to advancing responsible stewardship of the Blagden Alley Naylor Court Historic District, asks for help with noise, trash, traffic, and infrastructure support for alley businesses

Blagden Alley Naylor Court

Blagden Alley Naylor Court Association (BANCA) along with Shaw Main Streets, ANC2F, and select alley business owners participated in a productive meeting with Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto last night. The meeting was part of an ongoing series of engagements with the Councilmember, ABRA Director Fred Moosally, and federal officials—all with the goal of safeguarding residential use of Blagden Alley Naylor Court, and procuring resources for alley businesses while simultaneously preserving the historic character of the alleys.[1] Each building in the alley has been on the National Register of Historic places since 1990.

Over recent years, the alleys have struggled, facing unprecedented challenges; most recently an incident resulting in an assault charge of a club owner seeking an alcohol license in Blagden Alley as reported by the Washingtonian and Fox5 News. "We have a longstanding history of community activism  addressing problematic businesses as well as strongly supporting responsible ones and we see both our residents and businesses struggling with the overwhelming trash, traffic, and noise in the alley," said Robert Goldberg, Chairman of BANCA. "We were happy to facilitate attendance at yesterday's meeting and are encouraged by Councilmember Pinto's commitment to restoring the alleys."

Resident Rights: Under District law, Blagden Alley residents are granted explicit rights as related to residential use of the alleys. Specifically, Blagden Alley — "Encourage adaptive reuse and mixed use infill development along Blagden Alley, a residentially zoned block with historic structures such as carriage houses, garages, and warehouses. Appropriate measures should be taken to safeguard existing residential uses as such development takes place." D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 10 § A2111. 

An Alley in Distress: Several community members shared their struggles with Councilmember Pinto, largely centered around highly disruptive noise, trash and traffic and noting the now 10 alcohol establishments internal to Blagden Alley's small square block. Amplified Noise: The acoustics of the alley were discussed as noise amplifies and echoes causing conversations between patrons to be heard throughout the alley. Trash Overflow and Traffic Jams: Concerns were expressed over the overflow of trash and the constant onslaught of delivery trucks and rideshare vehicles which have caused severe congestion, contributing to the overall noise and exhaust pollution, as well as pedestrian injuries. "There have been times our trash hasn't been picked up because there were too many vehicles in the alley and the garbage truck couldn't get through," said one business owner. 

Meeting attendees emphasized that these challenges have also directly impacted neighborhood use of the alley for activities such as walking pets or for children to ride their bikes safely. Anecdotes were shared about disappointed visitors unable to enjoy the iconic art in DC Alley Museum located in Blagden Alley, or reflect on the alley's historical significance and century-old buildings. "You can't take any of the art in when a trash truck or delivery truck is reversing into you," noted one resident. 

Proposed Solutions: Solutions discussed included noise mitigation measures, securing a commercial trash compactor, creating a loading zone on the 9th Street side of Blagden Alley, securing designated parking for residents, and permitting alley traffic to residents and tenants only. Additionally, greater agency education, coordination, and enforcement to ensure the safeguarding of Blagden Alley resident rights were discussed. 

"For me, it's not only about preserving architecture, it's about residents and businesses working together to preserve alley life and alley living," said one resident. "We need the District's support and clear guidelines to reduce confusion, complaints, and hostility."

Assistant Chief of Police for Patrol Service North Morgan Kane was lauded for her leadership and community care along with Commander James Boteler, and Lieutenant Curtis Miller. BANCA expressed a need for greater agency coordination and action to support MPD.

Councilmember Pinto closed the meeting by condemning any form of aggression towards residents voicing concerns or protesting ABRA licenses. She reiterated her commitment to working with the relevant District agencies to ensure meaningful improvements in Blagden Alley Naylor Court, and reinforced the need for all stakeholders to work together to preserve the alleys as a place where residents and businesses both can thrive.

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The Blagden Alley Naylor Court Association (BANCA) is a citizen's association established in 1985. Visit us at: www.myblagdennaylor.org. Follow BANCA on Twitter and Instagram: @myblagdennaylor 

[1] Blagden Naylor was home to emancipated slaves — here you will find the home of our first Black U.S. Senator Blanche Kelso Bruce, a man born into slavery and who went on to serve in the Senate from 1875-1881. In the 1930s, the struggling community banded together to protect these alleys from the Alley Dwelling Elimination Act of 1943 and an onslaught of Federal government propaganda — if it were not for them, these alleys would not exist today.

Source: Blagden Alley Naylor Court Association

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Categories: Town and City Government

Tags: activism, african american, blagden alley, civil rights, community, crime, DC, government, history, neighborhood, residential, safety