- The Washington Times - Friday, June 22, 2001

The D.C. Council has given a preliminary nod to accept the Casey Mansion Foundations offer of land and money for a mayoral residence. Well, actually that is a modest characterization. The residence would be a mansion perched on some of the most exclusive acreage in the city. Not everyone agrees on that location and not everyone agrees that Washingtons mayor should even have an official residence. But the councils vote settles those issues. Whats debatable is whether the city lawyers can cut a deal in the best interests of taxpayers.
The council gave its OK on the recommendation of its bipartisan commission, which was headed by former Mayor Walter Washington and had considered several sites, including properties on Capitol Hill and in Anacostia. But everyone knew the Casey property would be the only site left in the end. The foundation offered a sweetheart deal of 17 acres, $50 million and the promise to plant trees across the city. How can property located near an insane asylum in Anacostia or a former military infirmary on the Hill compete with that?
Council Chairman Linda Cropp promises she and her colleagues will carefully comb the pertinent legal documents. Problem is a similar promise was made with the developer of city hall, and the council did a legal tango with him for more than a year before winning the right to begin moving back in. While officials are paying lots of attention to parking, security and environmental concerns as they look this potential gift house in the mouth, the devil might literally prove to be in the details. It would prove most unfortunate if this agreement and a suitable name for the manse werent fully understood before everyone whips out their Mont Blancs.

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