Citizens want schools, hospital

For the first time since he enticed the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C., with promises of a new stadium, Mayor Anthony A. Williams went out among the local folks Tuesday, and he found that his largesse is not particularly appreciated.

Rather than a $440 million publicly financed waterfront stadium, the 100-plus residents and activists who met with him at an inner-city church would prefer that the city first put its finances to fixing schools and building a new hospital.

Only then would they back baseball, many of them said, according to The Washington Post.

"I'm concerned that you're fighting for baseball and we do not have a public hospital," said one resident, speaking of the area across the Anacostia River from the stadium site. "People are getting stabbed and shot, and they have to go wait in an ambulance at George Washington Hospital or in Prince George's County. I'm concerned with the priorities. I'm not opposed to baseball, but I want to hear you talk about that, sir."

The mayor replied that the city is negotiating to build a new hospital on the site of D.C. General Hospital, which closed in 2001.

"Can we get that first?" someone in the crowd shouted, the Post reported, as an organizer called an end to the meeting.

The D.C. Council will hold a public hearing Oct. 28 on the subject of financing the baseball stadium and must complete plans before three recently elected anti-stadium councilors replace three pro-stadium councilors after the first of the year.

Washington has been promised the Expos on the condition that RFK Stadium is cleaned up for a three-year run and a new stadium is ready for the 2008 season.