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Mayor Anthony Williams
Security rationale for adding national park land to the mayoral mansion site
September 24, 2003




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September 24, 2003

The Honorable Kathy Patterson Councilmember
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 107 
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Councilmember Patterson:

I am writing in response to your questions regarding Proposed Resolution 15-381, Transfer of Jurisdiction of a Portion of U.S. Reservation 357 for the Mayor's Official Residence, which was submitted on September 16, 2003, for the Council's consideration and approval. I wanted to acknowledge your correspondence from January 24, 2003, as well as your subsequent conversations with me and my staff regarding the security and transportation analysis related to this transfer of jurisdiction. Please find attached a brief paper on the security and transportation considerations as you have requested.

It is important to emphasize that the transfer of jurisdiction of the 1.8 acres of National Park Service ("NPS") land for the mayoral official residence is conditioned upon narrow and specific uses: additional landscaping, security, and ingress and egress. Given the sloping of the site and the potential for the residence to be located at the northern portion of the property, the use of the additional NPS land will be key to providing a secondary means of exiting the residence that is secure, that links the property to the traffic light that will he built at Whitehaven Parkway, and that furthers our shared goal of making an additional 16.5 acres of land available to citizens, officials, and visitors of our city.

Thank you for your interest and involvement with this issue. I and my staff remain available to answer any further questions you might have regarding the proposed transfer of jurisdiction and broader planning efforts related to the mayoral official residence.

Anthony A. Williams

Cc: All Councilmembers

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History and Purpose. The purpose of this paper is to address security and transportation concerns that related to the need for additional land north of the present Casey Mansion site, The Council of the District of Columbia requested that such an analysis be done, and submitted for their consideration prior to the public hearing on the transfer, scheduled for September 30, 2003. The paper has been prepared with the cooperation and participation of the Metropolitan Police Department, Executive Protection Unit and the District Department of Transportation.

The National Park Service has indicated its willingness to transfer jurisdiction over 1.8 acres of land to the District of Columbia, the use of which will be limited to "mayoral residence purposes". The land was previously acquired for the purpose of building a road, but the road project was subsequently abandoned. The National Capital Planning Commission approved the transfer unanimously on September 4; it must now be accepted by the City Council.

Background. On June 5, 2001, the Council of the District of Columbia adopted a resolution (PR 14-179) to accept and approve the proposal of the Eugene B. Casey Foundation, as set forth in a February 26, 2001 letter to the Mayor from Mrs. Eugene B. Casey, to designate the site at 1801 Foxhall Road, N.W., as the official residence of the Mayor of the District of Columbia ("Casey Mansion Proposal". Planning and designing an official residence for the Mayor of the District of Columbia is a complex task. In addition to the usual site planning issues - dealing with grades, views, drainage, access and house design, there are substantial additional complexities, relating to its public function, such as security, parking, crowd control and traffic control. It is important to note that, until the site planning has been done and the house designed, it is not possible to provide definitive conclusions with regard to security considerations; however, these observations reflect the best thinking at this point in time.

The Residence must be designed to take into account the range of family situations that may apply to future mayors. This means, for example, allowing for play space for children, as well as other outdoor space in which the mayor can undertake personal activities with a reasonable separation from the public, ceremonial spaces and in a reasonably secure environment.

Security Concerns

Two means of access and egress are required. There are several reasons for this:

  1. if a large public function is taking place at the Residence, and other family members need to exit, they should not have to compete with a driveway full of parked cars or incoming official visitors.
  2. In the event of an emergency situation, or if the Mayor and his/her guests need to leave a reception or other public event early in order to make another appointment, they need a second exit drive for a quick departure,
  3. If the President, or other high-ranking visitors come to the Residence, their security details will generally insist on a separate, private mode of access,
  4. In order to provide privacy for other family members, there should be a means for them to enter and exit the property shielded from the more public access points.

Given the need for two points of access/egress, the only appropriate location for such a driveway is directly aligned with Whitehaven Parkway, which is soon to be a signalized intersection.

  1. Commonly accepted traffic engineering practice, recommended by professional organizations such as the Institute of Traffic Engineers, calls for four way intersections to be aligned directly. If lanes are off set, it creates confusion among on-coming cars as to who has the right of way, which can lead to accidents. This is especially the case on a road such as Foxhall, which has restricted visibility due to its curving alignment and slope, with cars often traveling at relatively high speeds. The current entrance to the property, which will likely remain the major entrance, is on the downward, sloping section of Foxhall Road. While acceptable as an entrance, it would be difficult to exit there.
  2. Frequently, the mayor and his/her party, which can. include three or more vehicles, must exit quickly, in order to arrive on time for another engagement. The addition of the NPS property gives enough room for the vehicles to leave the house and queue up on the property, ready to move out when the signal changes. Without this ability, the security detail feels that it would be necessary to use lights and sirens in order to alert traffic that it is exiting, which could disturb neighbors. In addition, if a security officer were required to stop traffic at the lower site of the main entrance, in order to permit the motorcade to leave at the same time, the limited sight lines would endanger the officer.

The placement of the fence along the outside edge of the NPS property is necessary to achieve appropriate security.

  1. The site which is most favored for the Residence has a commanding presence on the top of a knoll, on the northern portion of the site, with the best views on the site. Because of the substantial slopes on the property (see attached map with topographic lines indicated) there are only two sites level enough to be suitable. However, this preferred site is only a short distance from the property line of the Casey property, so, in order to protect the Mayor's security and privacy, additional distance from property open to the public is needed. Again, it is important to remember that future mayors living in the residence may have small children, or special situations which make it especially important to provide a secure, private family area. Because of the likely location for the formal entrance driveway in the front of the residence, the secure family area will of necessity be in the rear of the mansion, close to the proposed transfer area.
  2. The security station must be located outside the fenced-in area. If the station were located inside the fenced area, then the gate would have to be opened every time that an officer needed to exit to review the credentials of a prospective visitor, creating a breech which could easily be exploited. The alternative designs by the Friends of Whitehaven Park (formerly the Casey Mansion Committee) generally do not recognize this reality. They also show a. guardhouse of 1000 square feet, far larger than necessary for the rear entrance/exit, since the main facility will likely include space for the security detail.
  3. In addition, those schemes which would leave the transferred land unfenced and place the gate and the station on Casey property would permit individuals to take cover anywhere along the expanse of driveway before arriving at the gate, and would therefore make it difficult to secure the area.
  4. A scheme with more fenced land connected with the rear entrance makes it easier for the special protection unit to secure their cars, and to do so without leaving several cars parked out in front of the residence. Proper security procedures require that the detail be able to be certain that their vehicles and the Mayor's vehicle have not been tampered with,

September 23, 2003

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