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  • Paul Rosa
    This article from today s Washington Post reports on an underground facility being constructed at the Naval Observatory. Albert reports that a frenzy of
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 8, 2002
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      This article from today's Washington Post reports on an underground
      facility being constructed at the Naval Observatory. Albert reports
      that a frenzy of construction activity has commenced at Site 4 (Fort
      Reno) for clos-in communications. The new facility at Site 7 (Lamb's
      Knoll) is nearing completion.

      12/08/02 Washington Post

      Cheney's Home Sending Bad Vibrations
      Construction Blasts Have D.C. Folks Shuddering, Speculating

      By David Nakamura
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Sunday, December 8, 2002; Page A01

      One man thought the noise was a sonic boom.

      Another guessed he was hearing rolling thunder.

      When a woman feared it was a bomb or an earthquake, she called the
      police. But they had no answers, either.

      No one in the Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood of Northwest
      Washington knows what is going on at the house of
      their neighbor, the vice president of the United States.

      But one thing is certain: They're tired of the daily blasting at the
      Naval Observatory that has shaken houses, rattled windows
      and knocked mirrors off the walls.

      "None of the neighbors object to any construction that is necessary in
      the Navy's view," said Nancy Nord, a community activist
      who lives on Observatory Circle. "What we do object to is that there is
      no sense of the magnitude, no warning about something
      so intrusive to our lives and no clear sense how long this is going to
      go or when it's going to stop."

      The blasts, which last three to five seconds apiece, have been going off
      two or three times a day -- as early as 7 a.m. and as
      late as 11 p.m. -- for nearly two months, residents say. But neighbors
      have received so little information from government
      officials about the top-secret project that speculation is running wild.

      The leading theory: A security bunker is being built for Vice President
      Cheney. The second most-popular guess: The
      government is digging tunnels to spy on nearby embassies. In third
      place: A helicopter hangar is under construction.

      As the government roots out terrorists around the globe and gears up for
      a possible military confrontation with Iraq, nothing is
      out of the realm of possibility, neighbors say.

      "After 9/11, when you hear a big blast for the first time, you wonder
      what is going on," said Iza Warner, who had a mirror fall
      off the wall of her home on Davis Street, a few blocks away from the
      construction site. Warner called the police after guests at
      a dinner party became frightened by the racket.

      "One guest said, 'Oh, my God, what is going on -- an earthquake?' "
      Warner recalled. "She said it sounded just awful. I called
      the police, and they looked around but they couldn't tell us anything."

      Thus far, the federal government's only response to the residents has
      been a three-page letter that the observatory's
      superintendent, David W. Gillard, sent to the advisory neighborhood
      commissioner, Rosalyn P. Doggett, on Nov. 20.

      The blasting could last eight more months, Gillard said in the letter,
      but the Navy has attempted to limit noise by silencing
      backup alerts on trucks and removing most diesel-powered electric
      generators from the construction site.

      He did not disclose the nature of the project, however.

      "Due to its sensitive nature in support of national security and
      homeland defense, project specific information is classified and
      cannot be released," Gillard wrote. "In addition, please understand we
      are severely constrained by operation requirements to
      perform this project on a highly accelerated schedule; therefore, it
      will not be possible to limit construction activities to the
      daytime as you request."

      Doggett said the letter raised as many questions as it answered. "I got
      back an information sheet that I thought was just not
      pertinent," she said. "They do not have to tell us exactly what is
      happening, but they do need to minimize the impact."

      The matter has alarmed D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3),
      who said she has asked Deputy Mayor Margaret
      Nedelkoff Kellems to press White House officials to work out a
      resolution.

      "If the federal government is not being a good neighbor, we'll elevate
      the issue to a level where something can be done,"
      Patterson said. "We want to know what we can know about what they're up
      to and if they are able to be a bit more
      responsive."

      The Naval Observatory, which opened at 3450 Massachusetts Ave. in 1893,
      houses many of the Navy's precious instruments
      used for measuring time and astronomy. The house on its grounds was
      designated as the vice president's residence in 1974.

      If residents' speculation is accurate and construction workers are
      digging deep into the ground, the project would be going
      through about 35 feet of common sand and gravel, according to federal
      officials at the U.S. Geological Survey. Anything
      beyond that depth would hit tonalite, an intrusive igneous rock similar
      to granite and common to this area.

      Phyllis Bonanno said her 89-year-old mother, who lives with her on
      Observatory Circle, is "quite upset when the boom goes
      off."

      "Everybody appreciates that there's always national security issues,"
      Bonanno said. "On the other hand, this is a neighborhood.
      We're owed the courtesy of an explanation."

      To Davis Street resident Joe Rieser, the noise is "quite remarkable.
      It's like thunder -- it rolls. The windows rattle. It's not
      something I'm used to. I'm concerned whether there are cracks in my
      house."

      Navy spokeswoman Cate Mueller described the work as "infrastructure and
      utility upgrades." She said that officials are
      continually monitoring the project and have not discovered any physical
      damage to buildings on observatory grounds. The
      vibrations from the blasts are below regulatory standards for
      construction in the city, she added.

      "If people came to us with damage, we would work with them on the
      claim," Mueller said. "Some neighbors are concerned.
      We take that seriously. We're doing what we can to make things better."

      Longtime residents said they have never heard such sounds coming from
      the Naval Observatory. Because they live in the
      nation's capital, however, many say they are resigned to living in a
      secretive world.

      "Yeah, I'd like to know more," said Carol Hindle, who lives on Davis
      Street. "But I do not trust that what I hear would be the
      whole truth. This is Washington, after all."

      And because it's Washington, the situation also is laced with political
      humor.

      "I just got back from Connecticut," said Warner. "When I mentioned this
      to my nephew, he said maybe [Cheney] is drilling for
      oil."
    • Rick C.
      Site 4? Site 7? What grouping of sites (formally) do these numbers refer to, and what are 1-3, 5-6, 8-??? Looks like, as many member of this list predicted
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 8, 2002
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        Site 4? Site 7? What grouping of sites (formally) do these numbers refer
        to, and what are 1-3, 5-6, 8-???

        Looks like, as many member of this list predicted shortly post Sept. 11,
        that the government was back in the bunker building business.

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      • Paul Rosa
        Rick: These site numbers refer to the original Presidential Emergency Facilities (PEF) sites. The site plans that we have dating to 1962 show Lamb s Knoll
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 8, 2002
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          Rick:

          These site numbers refer to the original Presidential Emergency
          Facilities (PEF) sites. The site plans that we have dating to 1962 show
          Lamb's Knoll (South Mountain, MD) as "Navy Site #7." Site #4 is
          adjacent to Reno Reservoir in DC. Albert LaFrance probably is the best
          authority on the chain and, hopefully, he'll read this and respond.

          "Rick C." wrote:

          > Site 4? Site 7? What grouping of sites (formally) do these numbers
          > refer
          > to, and what are 1-3, 5-6, 8-???
          >
          > Looks like, as many member of this list predicted shortly post Sept.
          > 11,
          > that the government was back in the bunker building business.
          >
          > _________________________________________________________________
          > Add photos to your messages with MSN 8. Get 2 months FREE*.
          > http://join.msn.com/?page=features/featuredemail
          >
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Rick C.
          Paul- I was playing a little dumb there - should have been more specific in what I meant. I was wondering if anybody had a complete list of the site numbers
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 8, 2002
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            Paul-
            I was playing a little dumb there - should have been more specific in
            what I meant. I was wondering if anybody had a complete list of the site
            numbers and their associated names. I recall Cannonball is #2, and Lamb's
            Knoll, but I was not aware of Ft. Reno.

            Rick


            >These site numbers refer to the original Presidential Emergency
            >Facilities (PEF) sites. The site plans that we have dating to 1962 show
            >Lamb's Knoll (South Mountain, MD) as "Navy Site #7." Site #4 is
            >adjacent to Reno Reservoir in DC. Albert LaFrance probably is the best
            >authority on the chain and, hopefully, he'll read this and respond.
            >
            >"Rick C." wrote:
            >

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          • Mike Makar <mikemakar@aol.com>
            Group, Another article about new facility. Neighbors Complain of Cheney Home Blasts Mon Dec 9, 9:54 AM ET Strange News - AP to My Yahoo! By JIM ABRAMS,
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 11, 2002
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              Group, Another article about new facility.

              Neighbors Complain of Cheney Home Blasts
              Mon Dec 9, 9:54 AM ET Strange News - AP to My Yahoo!

              By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

              WASHINGTON (AP) - Neighbors of Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web
              sites) are being shaken and rattled at least once a day by mysterious
              blasts at the U.S. Naval Observatory where Cheney lives.

              The Navy says the explosions are part of a construction project that
              has been going on for several months now, but won't say more because
              the project is classified.

              Navy spokeswoman Cate Mueller described the work as
              an "infrastructure improvement, a utility upgrade."

              She said they have tried to reassure the neighborhood, which includes
              the Washington residence of former President Bill and Sen. Hillary
              Clinton (news - web sites), that the blasts will not damage their
              homes. She said most understand that, because of national security
              concerns, they can't reveal details or confine the construction to a
              9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule.

              Joseph Rieser, who lives a half-block off Observatory Circle, said
              each blast was "almost like thunder because it rolls and it lasts a
              noticeable period, probably several seconds." It said the explosions
              rattle windows that aren't shut tight.

              He said his concern was that neighbors received no forewarning of the
              project. "If this were a normal construction contract I would expect
              that they would have told the neighbors."

              Mueller acknowledged that they were "not as aggressive up front in
              warning" neighbors about the project.

              She said the construction is expected to last another eight months,
              and for the time being there will be one or two blasts a day, each
              lasting about three to five seconds.

              The blasts were being carefully monitored to assure they were well
              under acceptable vibration standards so there would be no damage to
              either nearby residences or to facilities at the observatory, she
              said.

              The Naval Observatory moved to its present location on Massachusetts
              Ave. in Northwest Washington in 1893. The vice president took up
              residence on the site in 1974. It houses the master clock of the
              United States and telescopes dating back to a time when it was one of
              the premier astronomical observatories in the world.

              The Washington Post, which reported the issue Sunday, said David
              Gillard, the observatory's superintendent, had sent the local
              neighborhood commission a letter noting that "due to its sensitive
              nature in support of national security and homeland defense, project
              specific information is classified and cannot be released."

              Jennifer Millerwise, a spokeswoman for the vice president, referred
              questions about the project to the Navy.
              ___

              On the Net: Vice president's residence:
              http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/life/vpresidence.html

              U.S. Naval Observatory: http://www.usno.navy.mil/
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