Preservationists are questioning plans by the Department of Homeland Security to move into the west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, a former lunatic asylum.
DHS plans to spend $3 billion restoring the 176-acre, 61-building campus, which at its peak held 7,000 mental patients, and completing its move in 2013.
But local historic preservationists plan to fight the move, concerned about the department holing itself up behind brick walls and security fences and not interacting with the community.
“The area is sorely in need of economic development,” said Rebecca A. Miller, executive director of the D.C. Preservation League. “A walled-off citadel on the site is not going to help.”
The Rev. Anthony Motley, a Congress Heights resident for 55 years and president of the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, said: “I’d like to see anything on the site but Homeland Security.
“It has a lot of potential for building the community, a community of residents on this side of the river,” said Motely, who recalled picnics, apple picking, ballgames and horseback riding there.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), ranking member on the House subcommittee that has oversight of the west campus, defended the plan. “The only developer in the U.S. that consistently puts up money for historic properties is the federal government,” she said. . . .
GSA spokesman Michael McGill said that his agency has conferred with the community, and he insisted that history will be respected. Norton maintained that security for Homeland Security would be no more stringent than for any other government building. “We don’t want to be precious about Homeland Security,” she says. “They’re just a bunch of paper pushers.” — Washington Post
Just a bunch of paper pushers. I suppose that’s apt, since they’re going to be pushing billions of paper dollars into this crazy project. For some reason, though, nobody seems to be upset with the insane price tag, which only covers the cost of restoring the facilities, not actually moving the department. That’s likely to cost billions more mad money.
But who else is going to pay to restore the hospital which is famous for holding Presidential assassins as well as those among the Washington elite who lose their minds? It’s so expensive that nobody in the market wants to touch it. So instead you’re going to be forced to pay for these nutcases to have their funny farm.