Virginia Rep. Stan E. Parris asked Congress yesterday to withhold a $386 million payment to the District government until city officials close the Lorton prison firing range, which is next to a neighborhood where residents have found bullets in their homes and yards.
"Enough is enough," said Parris after touring the Newington Forest subdivision, which borders the city-run prison in southeastern Fairfax County. "We are mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more."
Parris, a Republican, represents the district that includes Lorton.
Several residents of the area have discovered .45-caliber bullets in shrubbery and lodged in walls of their houses and garages. Fairfax County this week sued the District in an effort to force closing of the range.
Parris' legislation to withhold the funds for the city's fiscal 1984 budget was the latest in a continuing series of maneuvers by Virginia officials angry over conditions at the sprawling prison complex. A federal judge Tuesday rejected the county's request for a temporary order closing the range after D.C. Corrections officials agreed to a cease-fire until April 29.
Parris, who has tangled repeatedly with District officials on Lorton and other issues, sent Mayor Marion Barry a letter in which he outlined his position. "I would hope not to have to take another issue of that type to the floor of the House," Parris said. "But I am determined to ensure that my constituents are protected from the unsound policies and reckless management of the D.C. Department of Corrections."
A spokeswoman for Barry yesterday refused to comment on the Parris letter saying, "Our position is that the matter is in litigation and we don't want to comment on the situation at this time."
The Parris legislation poses no immediate threat to the city budget, according to Parris administrative assistant Dick Leggitt. The proposed payment--about two-thirds of the city budget--is not scheduled be considered by Congress until late summer, he said. "We're firing a warning shot over their bow," said Leggitt.
D.C. Corrections officials are scheduled to meet with Fairfax County authorities and local citizens tonight to discuss possible site changes for the firing range.
A Fairfax County Police Department investigation concluded that the bullets found in the subdivision houses were fired Feb. 23 when soliders from Fort Myer were at the firing range.
Corrections officials said they have since restricted the use of the range to corrections department training drills in which smaller-caliber bullets are used.
The nearby residents say they are not satisfied. "Whenever you hear shooting now, you're scared to go outside," said Tom King, who said he discovered a bullet in the side of his house on Deep Valley Court.
Although Fairfax County officials said the mayor vowed in late February to temporarily halt use of the firing range, corrections department officials didn't agree to stop using the range until Monday.
Parris, echoing a repeated request from Fairfax County officals who accompanied him on his tour, also called on the mayor yesterday to meet with Virginia officials to discuss the "possibility of relocating the Lorton facility to within the boundaries of the District of Columbia."