GW, FB residents at odds

The alleged vandalism of a car belonging to a student living in historic Foggy Bottom has underscored the tensions between longtime residents of the neighborhood and students renting townhouses there.

On Wednesday, a senior leasing a townhouse on 25th Street said he called Metropolitan Police after reportedly observing that all four tires of his green Saab – which was parked in a back lot behind a townhouse on I Street – had been slashed. A letter affixed to the front windshield of the car’s window informed the student that he was parking on private property.

“You’re enjoying the typical GW student arrogance: like parking on private property,” read the note, which was written in pencil on white paper.

MPD has yet to determine whether the student’s tires were slashed.

The senior, who requested anonymity, said that while he was aware he had parked his car on private property, he had prominently displayed a note saying he would move his car immediately if asked to do so.

The senior said he parked on the property for about two weeks.

“My biggest concern is GW students moving into a neighborhood where they’re not welcome by certain neighbors – not all of them – because of bad relations that have been going on before their time,” said the student, who moved into his townhouse in late August.

Many longtime residents said students show disregard for their neighbors by throwing raucous parties at all hours of the night, but students say their neighbors are “uptight” and unnecessarily call the police.

“The parties, the swarms of people attending the parties on Sunday night. Not all the students disrupt the neighborhood and treat it with disrespect,” said Suzanne Foss, who lives on 25th Street.

Foss said she saw the student’s car on Wednesday and saw no indication that the tires had been slashed, but she acknowledged they were flat.

Jane Checkan, a GW alumna who has lived in Foggy Bottom for 40 years, said the student’s car was parked in a space belonging to a man who “is not happy when people park in his space.”

The owner of the parking space was unavailable for comment.

Officer Bill Parr of the MPD’s second district, which encompasses GW and Foggy Bottom, said he regularly breaks up parties in student-leased townhouses.

Parr said students also commit acts of “alcohol-induced stupidity” in the neighborhood – such as blocking a street with traffic cones.

Last week, several students living on 25th Street, including junior Seth Yazdian, said they received anonymous letters complaining about their perceived disrespect for the neighborhood.

“Is it just your home upbringing, or the simple GW contempt? Or your low IQ? But you prove your firm decision to refuse to cooperate,” read a letter, which was penned in black marker.

Several residents said the strained relations have resulted from GW’s contempt for the community, evidenced by its expansion, which they said has destroyed Foggy Bottom.

“I suppose the bitterness with what (University President Stephen Joel) Trachtenberg is doing, that GW is trying to wipe out the neighborhood, does encroach upon the students,” said Ed Gable, a director of the Foggy Bottom Association.

In the past decade, the University has embarked on an ambitious expansion campaign, buying up residential properties in the neighborhood. Donald Kreuzer, who owns three townhouses on 23rd Street, is suing GW, claiming the Ivory Towers residence hall is being built partially on his property.

Ron Cocome, FBA president, said strained relations between students and residents have never before resulted in vandalism.

“If someone took that out on a student, that’s nothing we condone,” he said.

Bernard Demczuk, assistant vice president for D.C. affairs, said GW and Foggy Bottom residents enjoy great relations.

Last year, Demczuk started the “Friends” group, an organization dedicated to promoting University-community relations.

Demczuk said the vandalism, if it did occur, was a “minor detail” that is not indicative of student-community relations.

Julie Ingels, who lived on the University of Chicago campus before moving to Foggy Bottom, said she finds being around students “stimulating.”

“There are some residents who complain vociferously … there are definitely people around here who have an anti-student attitude,” she said.

Steven Ingels, Julie’s husband, said residents should be more tolerant of students.

“If we wanted to hear crickets, we’d live out in the suburbs,” he said.

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