June 4, 2006


"For years, politicians, planners and citizens have discussed ways to bring the city's "forgotten half," east of the Anacostia River, into focus. ... [From the Point on the campus] when the leaves of the tall trees are down, the vista expands north to south from the campanile of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to the Masonic tower on the hill above Alexandria."

Public access to the Point will never be, "if the federal government, which owns the 176-acre west campus, continues with its plans. The basic proposal: to transform the west campus into a headquarters compound for the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security."

"Carrying out such plans would involve developing 4.5 million square feet -- a Pentagon-size allotment. Although most of the older buildings would be renovated as common facilities for eating and meeting, adding so many buildings would alter the bucolic character of the place -- and not for the better." DC Bubble's view is that the words bucolic and city don't often mix, particularly in a city like ours with so many collars on development."

"But the worst aspects of the federal plans -- from the point of view of public access to the Point and its future as a symbol of Washington's unity -- are the proposed military-style security arrangements. There would be no public access to the Point. Much of the compound would be surrounded by fences (incorporating the historic brick and stone wall along Martin Luther King Avenue), and buildings would be set back a minimum of 100 feet from the borders. (Or, if built within that line, they would be "hardened" to withstand explosives. In other words, they'd be bunkers, designed to look sort of normal.)"

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