D.C.

Plans for future of Walter Reed area irk neighbors

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District officials have been in negotiations for months on what to do with the Walter Reed campus. Come September, the hospital will have to move as part of the military base realignment process.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Residents are upset at a proposal that Metro use between 12 and 16 acres of the land for a large bus garage and the federal government build a complex of foreign embassies.

Metro wants to close two of its bus depots in Northwest, on 14th Street and near Chevy Chase. Metro would like to house 250 buses at the new garage. Residents in the neighborhood surrounding Walter Reed say no thanks.

"That may add too much congestion to the neighborhood,” said Marlena Edwards, who lives in the area.

"I don't think a metro terminal would be compatible with this neighborhood.,” said Christine Hanson, another neighbor.

Asked about neighbor’s concerns, a Metro spokesman said “We are prepared to be the best possible neighbor.” He pointed out that there also are concerns at the other two garage locations that could be closed if Metro can open a new bus garage at Walter Reed.

“We have two old facilities that need major repair or replacement,” he said in an emailed statement. “We are open to all options and have reviewed any provided us. Walter Reed seems to be the best alternative we have seen in years, but we're certainly open to other suggestions.”

While all neighbors we spoke with said they oppose a Metro garage, they're split on the State Department proposal to build an enclave of embassies on land that is now mostly trees.

"I believe embassies would be good neighbors in terms of keeping the value up and up keep,” Edwards said.

Others aren’t so welcoming of having a cluster of embassies as well as the loss of green space and there's concern about the lack of community input.

"The State Department would have total control over that land for parceling into embassy sites and there would be no opportunity for neighbor input. I guess there's some frustration certainly,” said Ralph Blessing.

A State Department spokesperson said the agency is "committed to a transparent process as well as a green development plan." The plan will include at least 10 embassies. It could take up to 30 years to reach agreements with individual countries and to build the embassies, the spokesperson said.

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