The U.S. Naval Reserve Center at Jones Point in Alexandria is to be closed this summer, and its 10 acres of land and its three buildings are to be transferred to the National Park Service for use as parkland.
The 60-year-old building and small outbuildings beside it may be razed and the site grassed over, but no action will be taken until city officials and nearby residents have been consulted, Park Service officials said this week.
Most of Jones Point already is federal parkland, although it is undeveloped, accessible only by small residential streets, and is used primarily by ALexandria residents for picnicking, soccer and public gardening plots.
The 40-acre park under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge is the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] of both Revolutionary and Civil War earthenwork forts - Jones Point also is called Battery Cove - although little evidence of the forts remains today.
It also contains the first of the 40 stone District of Columbia boundary markers set in place in 1791, still barely standing on the shore, and boasts the oldest existing inland-waterway lighthouse in the nation. The lighthouse, built in 1854, was used until 1924. In 1966 the park service restored the vandalized lighthouse, but it is now boarded up.
The Navy, which began building ships on Jones Point during World War I and has drilled reservists there for 22 years, will transfer the 650 reservists currently using Jones Point to the new Armed Forces Reserve Center set to open at Bolling Air Force Base in Anacostia. The move is to begin in June and be completed by September.
Among the 2,000 Navy, Marine, Army and Coast Guard reservists moving to the new center will be 120 Coast Guard reservists now using Alexandria's old Ford factory at the foot of Franklin and Union Streets, next to Jones Point.
The Coast Guard cutter Capstan and its active-duty crew also may move from the old Ford factory dock, although the federally owned building itself will continue to be used by government agencies.
A spokesman for the General Services Administration, which operates and disposes of government-owned property, said the former Ford assembly plant is being refurbished and will continue to be used for storage by half a dozen federal agencies, including the 464th Transportation Company, an Army reserve boat unit. The Army boatmen meet in the old Ford plant and recently built docks on Jones Point for a dozen landing craft.
The closing of the Naval Reserve Center, the most noticeable occupant of Jones Point, will mean a reduction in heavy automobile traffic through Alexandria's Old Town and Yates Gardens neighborhoods, since the 650 Navy reservists will n longer be driving and drilling there.
Park Service spokesman George Berklacy said the park service has no plans for Jones Point but unless a use for the buildings is found they probably will be razed. The three-story brick administration building and large steam-heating plant beside it were constructed in 1917 for the government's Jones Point boatyard, which built torpedo boats and other small craft. The large metal storage building nearby was put up after the Navy Reserve began using the site in the 1950s. They are the only buildings on Jones Point except for two small, prefabricated U.S. Park Police offices.
City officials said last week they were unaware that the Naval Reserve or Coast Guard Reserve units were leaving. The city, which has relatively little parkland for its 110,000 residents, has discussed buying Jones Point from the federal government at least twice in the past three decades, but the park service has not been interested in relinquishing it.
The federal government and the city are still disputing ownership of much of the rest of Alexandria's waterfront, since the District-Virginia boundary is the Potomac's 1791 highwater mark, established when Alexandria was allowed to secede from the District of Columbia in 1846. The Justice Department sued Alexandria five years ago to settle the issue, and the case is still pending in the federal courts here. The Alexandria City Council last spring adopted a policy statement htat both Jones Point and Daingerfield Island, the Park Service marina and park north of the city, should remain in federal hands as parkland.
The Park Service has no master plan for long-range development of Jones Point or Daingerfield Island and has budgeted no improvements or changes in either park.