How Will Navy Yard Shooting Affect the Neighborhood?

Posted September 18, 2013 at 2:49pm

In the wake of the Navy Yard shooting, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., wants to make sure investigations into the Southeast D.C. facility take into account the community that has developed along the Anacostia River waterfront.

Norton is urging President Barack Obama to form a panel of experts in city land use and planning, technology and psychology, along with law enforcement, military and intelligence experts, to investigate the many security issues raised by the mass shooting.

“The tragedy at the Naval Sea Systems Command offers a virtual invitation to use fresh post-9/11 eyes to evaluate how to secure federal employees who work in facilities like the Navy Yard that are a part of a residential or business community,” she wrote Tuesday in a letter to Obama. Building 197 — the site of Monday’s deadly shooting — was renovated and officially made the headquarters for the Naval Sea Systems Command in 2001. Sea Systems employs about 3,000 workers at Navy Yard. Norton said that renovation helped reinvigorate development along M Street Southeast.

The Yards Park community, at the heart of riverfront expansion, has become an urban waterfront neighborhood with new condominiums, thriving farmers markets, bars and restaurants and is the home of the Washington Nationals. The nearby Anacostia Riverwalk provides walking, jogging and biking trails for residents, and city officials have planned a streetcar for M Street Southeast.

Norton wrote that the shooting,“which apparently did not involve the outside community, should not change this relationship or lead to an overreaction that does not address the security concerns.”

Mayor Vincent Gray echoed her sentiments Wednesday, saying he hoped the Navy Yard would not become an isolated “military enclave.”

“We hope that the people that work there have a relationship with, interaction with, the surrounding communities because I think that would be the most beneficial,” he said.

But he also urged more intense scrutiny of security protocol at the Navy Yard.

Gray applauded Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s announcement that he intends to order a physical security review at all U.S. military bases but urged a deeper federal investigation into procedures used to grant security clearances.

In the case of Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, “Why did the man have credentials that permitted him on the base in the first place?” Gray asked.

Asked if he was worried that security investigations could undo the city’s progress opening the Anacostia Riverfront to new development, Gray said, “I worry less about that … and more about the safety and security of the people who go there for whatever purposes they may have.”