Republic of Congo’s (Torn Up) Concrete Makes New York Times

by Borderstan.com December 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm 1,484 4 Comments

Republic of Congo Embassy, 16th Street NW, Luis Gomez Photos

16th Street and Riggs Place NW: The recently poured concrete at the Republic of Congo Embassy came up on December 19. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Michelle Lancaster. Follow her and tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster or email her at [email protected].

Apparently, the squeaky wheel does get the grease. Or perhaps it often just has a better PR person? At any rate, Dupont Circle residents made so much noise about the decision by the Republic of Congo Embassy to pave their front yard that the embassy relented and began tearing up the concrete on Monday. (See No More Concrete at the Embassy of Congo.)

It took the DC Department of Transportation, the State Department and other local officials — along with neighborhood organizations — to make it happen. But now even the Grey Lady is in the picture. The New York Times story on Wednesday was after the Republic of Congo took corrective action with plans to replace the concrete with “bushes and mulch.”

The Dupont Circle Conservancy gets much of the credit in the article and the president is quoted a few times. The actual protests in front of the embassy were organized by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association.

The coverage of this squabble in the The Times means a few things:

  • First, it is an extremely slow news week leading up to Christmas.
  • Second, enough attention in local blogs can trickle up to the highest echelons of power (I’m talking about the State Department, not the The Times for any of you FOX News lovers).
  • Third, be very careful if you want to build/renovate/alter anything in Dupont Circle.

The money quote in the article from the Republic of Congo’s ambassador, Serge Mombouli: “They asked us remove the pavement, and that is what we are doing,” he said. “I know that that will not look nice, but that for me is as far as it goes. If we are required to do more, we will lodge a strong protest with the U.S. government.”

Merry Christmas to you, too, Mr. Ambassador.

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  • Lance

    “Second, enough attention in local blogs can trickle up to the highest echelons of power (I’m talking about the State Department, not the The Times for any of you FOX News lovers).”

    Note that there was no ‘trickle up’ going on here. The State Department is responsible for assisting foreign governments with their embassy facilities needs in DC and, by law, the local government must go through the State Department in its enforcement activities regarding embassy properties. I.e., The State Department, which incidentally would have initially presented this property to the Rep. of Congo as a suitable site for their new chancery, is a party BY LAW in all discussions involving the embassy. As such, we (The Dupont Circle Conservancy), addressed all issues directly to the State Department, in addition to DDOT.

    Now did the Republic of Congo decide to comply based on what the blogs had to say rather than the letter sent it by the State Department asking it to comply with the DDOT order? It’s possible, but not likely.

  • Only in DC do people feel entitled to tell other people what to do with their property.

    I am in total opposition of this. It’s ridiculous-DC at it’s finest.

    • Lance

      It’s not their property. Like most front yards in the older parts of DC, it’s public space (i.e. like the roadway and the sidewalk) and as such a permit would have been required to alter it as significantly as they did.

  • Garrett

    I think the neighbors got the bad karma that they deserved for protesting the bed and breakfast.


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