Last night at its monthly meeting, ANC 6D passed a resolution opposing the proposed relocation
of the First Distrct Police Station currently at 415 4th St. SW to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. SE.
There's a series of 11 bullet points describing the ANC's opposition, many of which were brought up at the city council subcommittee hearing last week
, most notably of course being the potential impact on "community policing" if the police are no longer housed right in the community. Other issues such as parking at the new site, the "massing" of so many police functions in such a small area given that the 1D1 substation is just four blocks away, and the potential loss of easy walk-in visits to 1D if they are housed in the same building that contains high-level MPD functions such as the chief's office, the Special Operations Division, the evidence warehouse, and other departments.
I also finally got a chance to see the portions of the hearing that weren't originally broadcast, and one of the items that jumped out at me (and that is mentioned in the ANC resolution as well) is that the Office of Property Management is already looking for 10,000 square feet of "swing space" for the 1D substation, because it needs to be out of its current location by early 2009 to make way for the new combined forensics lab. Because of timing issues with getting the 225 Virginia building ready for occupancy (a project that could cost up to $100 million), 1D may not be able to move directly to the new building. (OPM said it should know within 60 days if 1D will need to move to swing space.) Both Carol Schwartz and Tommy Wells were quite skeptical of moving 1D to 225 Virginia, with Schwartz saying "Have you thought of how ridiculous that is?" (But she said it really nicely.) The council members pressed OPM and MPD about why the forensics lab couldn't be at 225 Virginia instead, but issues with ceiling heights and ventilation seemed to be stumbling points, although former OPM head Carol Mitten testified that it wouldn't be impossible. There was also a lot of discussion about the possibility of buying 225 Virginia outright, rather than leasing it.
And of course, as I mentioned in my initial summary
, parking issues were a large part of the conversation as well. Neither OPM or MPD would commit to Wells's idea of a ban on employee on-street parking; and as I said last week, OPM and MPD were floating the DPW trash transfer lot at 2nd and K as a parking alternative without seeming to be aware that that lot is already going to the DC Housing Authority as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg
Hope VI project. (I shouted it at the TV as loudly and often as I could, but apparently they couldn't hear me.) As described, a new parking structure built on top of the surface lot at 3rd and I would have about 520 spaces, 200 of which would be for police vehicles and another 100 for 1D staff, leaving only 200 spaces for the remaining 500 employees at this new headquarters.
Next steps? OPM is now looking at getting architectural drawings and guaranteed maximum buildout costs to the council by October (two months later than originally forecast); there is also supposed to be a parking plan given to the committee within the next two weeks, and also at some point a meeting between OPM, MPD, and ANCs 6B and 6D. A separate Zoning Commission hearing
on adding the site to the Capitol South Receiving Zone originally scheduled for this week has now been postponed. I imagine there will be a fair amount of behind-the-scenes maneuvering on the project that we won't hear much about until it comes time for the city council to vote on paying for the renovations to the building.