Norton Urges U.S. Marine Corps to Build New Barracks on Federal Land,...

Norton Urges U.S. Marine Corps to Build New Barracks on Federal Land, Not Private D.C. Property

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 26, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released her comments to the U.S. Marine Corps regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project in the District of Columbia to rebuild the Marine barracks known as Bachelor Enlisted Quarters Building 20, saying it would be “unacceptable for the U.S. Marine Corps to select one of three alternative sites that are privately owned or leased.”  The EIS proposes five alternative sites for rebuilding its existing Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, which currently do not meet antiterrorism/force protection standards.  Two of the proposed sites are on federal Department of Defense-owned property, while three are on privately owned or leased property.  Norton has met with Marine Corps officials over the past few years to express her deep concern about proposed sites that would force D.C. residents to move from their homes or businesses, or would take land from The Yards development, which a Norton bill secured for private development, any of which would negatively impact the District’s local communities and economy.

In her comment, Norton wrote, “Alternative Sites 1, 2, and 3 should not be chosen because of the significant negative impacts on District residents, District business owners, and the District economy.  Alternative Sites 1 and 2 are privately owned, which, if chosen would require the displacement of businesses and residents.  While Alternative Site 3 is owned by the U.S. General Services Administration, the property has already been leased for a term of 90 years to Forest City and is slated for mixed-use development.  The Marines cannot now swoop in and take these prized sites in a city that has almost no land left for development for the benefit of its growing population and businesses.  However, Alternative Sites 4 and 5 will protect private landowners and lessees in the District while at the same time providing the opportunity for increased economic development at the current Building 20 site.”

The full text of Norton’s comment is below:

Colonel B.T. Watson
U.S. Marine Corps
Marine Barracks
8th & I Streets SE
Washington, DC 20390-5000

Dear Colonel Watson:

I met with Marine officials on May 7, 2015, for an overview of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released last month on the Marine Barracks Washington project to rebuild the existing Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) at Building 20, which do not meet current antiterrorism/force protection standards.  While I appreciate that two of the alternative sites are on U.S. Department of Defense owned property, it would be unacceptable for the U.S. Marine Corps to select one of the three alternative sites that are privately owned or leased.

As your office may recall, I met with Marine officials two years ago, and at that time, the Marines only presented potential sites that were privately owned or property owned by D.C. it needed for other uses.  At that time, I wrote to Major General James Kessler expressing my concern with the choice of these sites and asking the Marines to select sites that would not negatively impact the District’s economy and its residents, who would lose their homes and businesses as a result.  I encouraged the Marines to look for federally owned or vacant sites to construct the BEQ.

Alternative Sites 1, 2, and 3 should not be chosen because of the significant negative impacts on District residents, District business owners, and the District economy.  Alternative Sites 1 and 2 are privately owned, which, if chosen would require the displacement of businesses and residents.  While Alternative Site 3 is owned by the U.S. General Services Administration, the property has already been leased for a term of 90 years to Forest City and is slated for mixed-use development.  The Marines cannot now swoop in and take these prized sites in a city that has almost no land left for development for the benefit of its growing population and businesses.

However, Alternative Sites 4 and 5 will protect private landowners and lessees in the District while at the same time providing the opportunity for increased economic development at the current Building 20 site.  While I understand that Alternative Sites 4 and 5 would not accommodate the parking requirement, when all concerns are considered, these two sites are the best options for the Marine Corps to rebuild the BEQ without taking the homes and businesses of District residents.  Additionally, even though the parking facility will remain at the current Building 20 site, the Marines have agreed to make use of the space above for mixed-use development, thus extending the economic development that is underway nearby on the Southeast waterfront.

Again, I appreciate that the EIS includes federally owned sites, and these are the best alternatives going forward.  I ask that this request be given full and fair consideration consistent with applicable law, rules, and regulations.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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