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Southeast Site Picked for Police HQ

The Capitol Police Board has approved a site in Southeast D.C. for the department’s new headquarters.

The board has accepted a recommendation from the Capitol Police to buy Square 695 at New Jersey Avenue and I Street Southeast, Architect of the Capitol Alan Hantman said during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing Thursday.

Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said officials picked from about a dozen sites, judging on criteria such as distance from the Capitol, parking and terrorism-related concerns.

“It met all of our requirements,” Gainer said of the site.

The agency has sought a new headquarters for years, saying that the current building on D Street Northeast was filled to capacity even before hundreds of officers were added in the past year and a half to increase security on Capitol Hill.

Earlier efforts to fund a new command center were put on hold in late 2001 when Senate negotiators prevailed in deleting money for the project from the post-Sept. 11, 2001, emergency supplemental measure.

The Capitol Police received $40.1 million in the supplemental spending bill for the Iraq war passed earlier this year to select a site and construct a building.

The privately owned Southeast site is in a low-use industrial area, Hantman said. Coal storage facilities for the Capitol Power Plant are currently located on the site.

Although the Energy Department has completed a study recommending the same area for the construction of a new power plant, the Architect said his office believes the existing plant can be retrofitted to comply with Environmental Protection Agency requirements, while continuing to use coal, oil and gas.

“We agree that this is the right location for the Capitol Police headquarters,” Hantman said. “We believe that hundreds of millions of dollars that would be required by [a new power plant] is really not necessary.”

The Architect received $22.7 million in the supplemental spending bill to complete the second of a three-phase modernization project for the power plant, which includes improvements for life and fire safety related issues.

The power plant also needs to expand its West Refrigeration Plant. It is critical for the refrigeration to be completed before the Capitol Visitor Center opens so the power plant can continue to meet the cooling needs of the Capitol complex, according to Hantman’s written testimony. The project is listed at a cost of $40.8 million in the Architect’s fiscal 2004 budget.

The budget also lists $4.2 million for the installation of a 400,000-gallon underground fuel tank to store oil for the power plant. Combined with an existing 200,000-gallon storage tank, the plant will be able to maintain enough fuel to operate for seven days.

The Architect is seeking an additional $6.5 million for improvements to the power plant operations.

Before bids can be sought for the Capitol Police headquarters design and construction, both the House and Senate must approve the purchase of the property. An environmental impact assessment would also be required.

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