Caroline Street Residents Association
By 1979 Caroline Street was a community. People met frequently on the street, often socialized together, watched others' houses while they were away, even shared bathrooms during reconstruction projects. But there was no formal organization.
In early 1979, a committee was formed to consider the establishment of a block council for Caroline and the adjacent 1900 block of 15th Street. The committee reported on 21 May 1979 with a proposal for a formal organization with several designated officers (including a chaplain), standing committees, and an executive committee.
On 2 June 1979, residents of fifteen of the houses on Caroline met to discuss the proposal, and such problems as the condition of the partially collapsed 1524, the derelict 1522, trash, crime, the removal of a mailbox at the corner of 16th and Caroline, and our centennial celebration. The conclusion was that Caroline should form its own, much less formal organization. Rick Busch became the block chair, and most everyone volunteered to help with the preparations for the celebration.
The centennial celebration, a block party, was held on 25 August 1979. A great time was had by all, and it was immediately decided that the block picnic should be held annually. And so it has been for 26 years, with the 27th scheduled for 18 September 2005. The attendance has varied over time, but practically all those on the block are usually there, along with invited friends, some neighbors from the surrounding streets, and, in election years, council members and candidates.
2001 block party
among those pictured are (left to right) Michael Schade, Richard Maljak, Clint Williams, Jim Mears, Caroline Evans, Nancy Gamber, Peter Brehm, and Helene Scher.
The success of the summer block party prompted some to suggest a winter block activity. Thus was born the winter progressive dinner. Each year four houses volunteer to host a course (soup & salad, appetizer, main, and desert). Through the years we have discovered that some of our people are fabulous cooks. (One publishes cookbooks.)
Neighborhood Watch sign
as the first, Caroline Street selected the design
But socializing was not our only activity. The association continued to meet, with a particular focus on crime. We were early participants in Operation ID, engraving our property to make it easier to identify if stolen. In early 1980 we had discussions with the Metropolitan Police, and they suggested that we join a newly launched Neighborhood Watch program. We agreed, the first area in DC. And as the first, one of our residents designed the sign which was adopted. On 10 May 1980 the street was closed for the official inauguration of the program.
10 May 1980 dedication of the Neighborhood Watch signs
among those pictured (not in order) are Peter, Susie and Teddy Manning, George and Caroline Evans, Norman and Eloise Bland, Katy Mizell, Rick Busch, Dan Gamber and Margaret Dodson.
Photo by Linda Wheeler, Washington Post staff.
Over the years, the block association and various members have:
Worked to get new street trees planted
Pressed the city to repave the street (which brought with it new brick sidewalks)
brick sidewalk, tree box, iris
picture by Rick Busch
Worked to get wrought iron fencing around most of the tree
Planted the tree boxes with iris and lilies so that each spring
residents and anyone who walks along the street, have blooms to look at on their
way. Our street tree boxes and those who worked especially hard to get them planted - Peter Brehm, Mark Huey, and Christine Pembroke - were featured in The
Intowner "Neighborhood Gardens" column in June 1997.
Carried out spring and fall street snd alley cleaning, often with a coordinated bulk trash collection and occasionally with a block sale the day of the spring cleaning.
In 1988 petitioned successfully against a proposal to rezone the north half of Square 190 to a higher density - a rezoning which would have likely led to the destruction of the neighborhood.
Worked constantly, especially in the 1970s, to get drug dealers and their customers off the street and abandoned vehicles removed at a time when there was always room for parking. The block chairpersons and vigilant neighbors didn't let up until these situations were corrected
Kept after the city and other agencies to get storm sewer catch
basins properly cleaned out
Continued to combat the rat population, increased noise and trash
from clubs and restaurants that have moved to nearby U Street, and the impact
these clubs and gathering places have had on street parking for residents.
In 1993 joined with others in a successful campaign against the proposed construction of a car wash in the gas station at 15th & U.
In early 1996 Caroline Street officially "adopted" the triangular park at 16th & New Hampshire Avenue, which is actually National Park Service property (reservation 146). The first step was a landscape plan and plants from the National Park Service, with monetary contributions and muscle power provided by Caroline Street. Since, we have worked to keep the park clean, watered, and planted additional material.
4 May 1996: landscaping "our" park
In 1996, joined a community campaign to stop the proposed closure of our local fire station, Engine Company 9 at U and 17th. The campaign was successful.
In 2003, joined others in the Dupont area to force the DC Water and Sewer Authority to determine why basement flooding had become a problem since a very heavy rain in August 2001. That effort included distributing questionnaires to everyone on the block and attending numerous meetings. (The problem was hopefully solved by the reconstruction of part of the sewer system in square 190 in May 2004.)
Last update 21 October 2005
Copyright Richard Busch, 1993, 2004-5
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