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Neighbors of Nationals Park Aren't All Cheering

We've heard the stories of excited fans, but there's another side of the Nationals Park story. Post reporter Hamil R. Harris spent time in the area surrounding the stadium both Saturday and Sunday nights and found some interesting contrasts.

He writes:

South Capitol Street was a crossroads of optimism and worry Saturday night as fans left the first major league baseball game at the new Nationals stadium.

One block into Southeast thousands of fans, teams officials and vendors were celebrating a beautiful new ballpark along the banks of the Anacostia River. But one block into Southwest, along Half Street, longtime black residents worried if it was the beginning of the end.

Jena and Ryan Razeghi once worked in Southwest. (Hamil R. Harris)

Ryan and Jena Razeghi of Centerville were among the last people to leave the Nationals' new ball park Saturday night. The two worked at a Southwest Washington club when the area was plagued with crime and vandalism.

Ryan, 33, who worked as a bouncer at the Nexis Gold Club in Southwest, said things were much different a few years ago. "In 2003, they thought building a Metro was revitalization, but this is what it is all about."

"Where we used to work there is now a crane to build a high rise, 999 First Street SE," said Ryan, who has mixed feelings about the changes. "Unfortunately you have to kick the lower end of the spectrum out and that is not right. There needs to be more subsidized housing. It is all condos there are no rentals."

"We couldn't afford to live down here," Jena said.

Fulton Vinson, 41, has lived in Southwest on O Street since he was a child. Vinson, who teachers Social Studies at a Virginia high school, said the stadium has not really benefited his neighbors so far.

Fulton Vinson, 41, has lived in Southwest since he was a child. (Hamil R. Harris)

"We are the only residential neighborhood impacted by the stadium and other than the parking situation (where residents get special parking permits during game times) our needs are not being addressed by the city or the Nationals."

"They kids are down there playing baseball everyday and I haven't seen a representative from the Nationals, I haven't seen them drive down there and line the fields. They have done nothing for us."

"They did not pay attention to the conditions of people in this neighborhood until they started to build that stadium."

Hamil R. Harris

By Marcia Davis  |  March 30, 2008; 8:47 PM ET
Categories:  Nationals  
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