Fair drop-in by homeowners group fuels fury

Robert Chacon

The fireworks continue to fly between a feuding pair of community

groups split on the preservation of an old gasoline station on the

site of a proposed mini-park in Adams Square.

Members of the Adams Square Merchants Assn. -- opponents of the

station -- are accusing station proponents in the Adams Hill

Homeowners Assn. of surreptitiously crashing their annual

neighborhood fair Saturday in order to gather petition signatures in

favor of preserving the small gas station, built in the 1930s.

"They used subterfuge to get the petition signed," said Carol

Cianfrini, a member of the merchants' association.

But members of the homeowners association said no rules were

broken at the event, which was co-sponsored by the city, and members

stopped collecting signatures once they were asked to stop,

association member Margaret Hammond said. The group was using space

donated to them at a booth belonging to another business, she added.

"We did nothing wrong," Hammond said. "We were supporting the

plans for the mini-park that the City Council has already supported.

We stopped as soon as they told us to stop, since we didn't know what

the law was. I doubt we even did it for half an hour."

The petitions were to be submitted to the city, Hammond added.

Groups that sponsor fairs do have the right to decide who can pass

out information at their events, said City Atty. Scott Howard, but he

doubted that the homeowners' group broke any laws.

"This sounds like a dispute between both groups and does not

involve the city," he said. "Walking down the street and handing out

leaflets or fliers is certainly appropriate at city-sponsored


The homeowners group said they were going to pass out information

pertaining only to their group, but Cianfrini said she was blindsided

when someone told her the group was taking signatures in support of

preserving the gas station.

At issue is the preservation of a gas station built in streamline

modern style in the 1930s. Proponents of preserving the small gas

station say that it symbolizes the character of the neighborhood and

could serve as a meeting space once the park is built. Opponents say

that it takes up too much room on the 12,000-square-foot lot at Chevy

Chase Drive and Palmer Avenue.

Designs for the mini-park will be discussed at a July 6 Parks,

Recreation and Community Service Commission meeting, though

commissioners have leaned against fusing the gas station into the

park's design.

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