The Barry administration released a list yesterday of 16 possible sites for a new prison in the District, but in a subsequent interview Mayor Marion Barry said the facility could not be built in Ward 8 and effectively ruled out all but six of the sites.
Barry specificially rejected two sites favored by federal officials -- an area near McMillan Reservoir in Northwest and St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast.
Barry did not rule out the old D.C. Jail site, the third site suggested by federal officials, saying it was "partially acceptable" but that the city had other uses for the land.
Among the other possibilities on the list released by the city administrator's office and not eliminated by Barry were Bolling Air Force Base in Southwest, the grounds of U.S. Soldiers and Airmen's Home in Northwest, a tract of land east of Langston Golf Course near Hayes Street NE, a tract of land just south of the Prince George's County line and north of the old brick kilns in the Arboretum on New York Avenue NE, and a tract of land just south of the brick kilns on New York Avenue.
Barry said in an interview last night that he hopes next week to release a list of four or five sites. He said the city will research land titles and the availability of the parcels and will examine zoning laws and undertake some engineering studies.
"If we had more help from the federal government telling us what the problems are, we'd be all right," he said, comparing the city's list of sites with "a football game where you prepare yourself with 20 plays but only run four."
The list of 16 sites is one that city officials said was given verbally to federal officials over the last month during intense negotiations over where to build a new prison in the city.
The federal government has taken the position that the most feasible places to build a prison quickly are the plot of land where the old D.C. Jail was located, the St. Elizabeths Hospital grounds or the McMillan Reservoir site. The day after Deputy Attorney General D. Lowell Jensen suggested these sites, Barry called them "not at all helpful." However, the sites appeared on the city's list released yesterday.
Barry said the St. Elizabeths and McMillan Reservoir sites were "totally unacceptable."
"We put St. Elizabeths on the list just to make them the federal government do some work," Barry said, adding "they didn't." He said that the city would not build a prison at the McMillan Reservoir site because of concerns about the quality of the city's water and because "when looking at that neighborhood, I can think of better uses of that land."
This casts into doubt whether the city would build a prison at the Soldiers Home, just north of McMillan Reservoir.
Barry also said that he did not want to swap city land for National Park Service land in the city, which federal officials say is the only arrangement under which federal park land would be given to the District.
Because of that, a number of sites on the city's list would not be eligible, including Rock Creek Park Golf Course in Northwest, East Potomac Park Golf Course in Southwest, Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River and Kingman Island in the Anacostia River.
In addition, the site of the old brick kilns in the Arboretum on New York Avenue NE was on the city's list, but a spokesman there has said that the kilns are on the historic register and that most of the land in the Arboretum is under the 100-year flood plain. It was unclear last night whether the sites just north and south of the brick kilns are also under the flood plain.
Major portions of land near Dalecarlia Reservoir in far Northwest Washington, also on the city's list, are under the flood plain as well, a federal source has said.
Fort Lincoln New Town in Northeast appears on the city's list but Barry specifically rejected it. And he said unless something "catastrophic" occurred, the city would not build a prison in Ward 8, which includes Anacostia. However, he pointedly added that Bolling Air Force Base "is technically in no ward."