Followers of the decades-long argument over the fate of the vacant properties owned by Shiloh Baptist Church in Shaw will want to check out this video of ANC 2C Commissioner and Shaw Main Streets executive director Alex Padro. Padro was speaking at Sunday afternoon's groundbreaking for the church's Wallace Charles Smith Community Service Building.
"There have been times in the past 10 years where change has caused a certain amount of tension between the community and the church," Padro said, displaying his mastery of the art of understatement. "And I would count that as one of the issues that I have most lamented over the years. And it's interesting because, there's always two sides to every issue. I've had so many neighborhood residents who have said, 'Why are you standing up for Shiloh? Why are you spending so much time trying to help them? Look at all the empty properties, look at all the broken promises.' And I always said, time needs to be allowed to pass so that the good people who are trying to do the work of God in Shiloh Baptist Church can accomplish the mission that they have been given."
Padro's comments at this weekend's ceremony stand in stark contrast to his public statements about Shiloh's vacants in the past. But now that it actually appears the church intends to move forward with building a community center in the 1500 block of 9th Street NW (the idea is that it will to be rented to nonprofits), everyone's trying to make nice.
"Today we're getting ready to start on delivering on a new day in terms of Shiloh's relationship with our community, on a new day in terms of delivering on the promises that Shiloh has made to itself, and to the community," Padro said.
A little over a year ago, the church decided to sell two of its properties, one at 1600 8th Street NW and the other 1543 8th Street NW, in order to fund renovations of its 9th Street properties. Those buildings have since been sold and are currently being renovated by their new owners, and now, the church says it is moving forward on 9th Street.
For some historical perspective on just how long the debate over Shiloh's properties has been going on, see this 1990 Washington Post article, re-posted by renewshaw.com.