King Canute would be proud of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The king, you'll recall, ordered the tide not to come in. The Engineers are proposing a variant in planning a new USAINSCOM facility at Fort Belvoir.

Those initials stand for the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, which, once a new headquarters is erected, will move to the Fairfax County post from its present locations at Arlington Hall and Fort Meade.

In its "notice of finding of no significant impact on the environment," published this week, the Corps of Engineers says that the headquarters will displace a recreational area (to be relocated), and that "the loss of open space and heavily wooded areas is an unavoidable impact which cannot be mitigated."

But, and this is where the Canute connection comes in, "Additional traffic congestion from the 1,100 employes relocated to the installation will be, in part, offset by restricting parking to 550 spaces . . . . "

Belvoir isn't exactly blessed with good public transportation -- an occasional Metrobus from Alexandria drops by on the No. 9 route -- so we're going to see a lot of car pools. Or some very long walks.

Also planned for Belvoir is a new computer center.

As it is being built, the Army said, neighbors can expect something described as "dust migration."

That's a euphemism for saying that, as the bulldozers chew away at the site, the wind will create clouds of loosened topsoil. Our Declining Standards

United States senators "are usually men of more weight in their own states than the [members of the House of] Representatives, and it was once the ambition and the pride of every state to send to the Senate . . . its purest and most illustrious citizens.

"Then the senators were chosen more for their actual worth than for mere political reasons . . . .

"Now, alas, senators are no longer chosen from the good and great. The chief qualification demanded . . . is devotion to a party; and men who are not fit, either by reason of intellectual gifts, or the admiration and confidence of the people, to represent the great states of the Union have found their way into the Senate, and the high standard of fitness for the position once set up by that body has been effectually and most unfortunately lowered."

-- Excerpted from "Behind the Scenes in Washington," by Edward Winslow Martin, published in 1873.

Ah for the good old, old days. Bill to Rename Center

Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), chairwoman of the D.C. City Council's Housing and Economic Development Committee, is sponsoring legislation that would rename the Washington Convention Center "the Theodore P. Hagans Jr. Washington Convention Center."

Hagans, a successful builder and worthy citizen, died in a plane crash in 1984, a family and community tragedy. He was well known and highly regarded among business leaders, though his public role was somewhat limited.

A hearing will be held May 14. To testify, pro or con, contact Linda Fennell at the council committee office at 724-8152 by noon May 13.