- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Federal officials have declined to discuss sounds of explosions coming from Vice President Richard B. Cheney's home at the U.S. Naval Observatory and told neighbors yesterday that they can expect more in the next eight months.
The neighbors say the blasts are three to five seconds long and occur once or twice a day, sometimes as late as 11 p.m. They also fear that the blasts could damage their homes.
Vice presidents began living on the grounds at Massachusetts Avenue in Northwest in 1974.
Rosalyn Doggett, a neighborhood commissioner, said that she recently received a three-page letter from Capt. David Gillard, the observatory's superintendent, stating that crews had reached a difficult part of the project and that the demolitions could last until July.
"I think people would like to know who they could contact if they hear a blast," Ms. Doggett said. "And they would like to know if there is damage, is the Navy going to make reparations."
Cmdr. Cate Mueller, a Navy spokeswoman, said that the project is an "infrastructure improvement and a utility upgrade."
She also said that the Navy is monitoring the blasts to ensure that they are "well under" maximum vibration standards and that no damage is done to the foundations of homes and buildings on the observatory.
The Navy also must protect the master clock of the United States and several precious telescopes on the grounds. Cmdr. Mueller said that the Navy would work with neighbors who say that the construction has damaged their homes.
She also said that Navy officials would like to limit the blasts to work hours and have tried to conduct them between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. However, crews are on a tight schedule, so holding off a blast could delay the project by at least a half-day, Cmdr. Mueller said.
"We're trying to work with [neighbors] on what we can tell them," she said.
Hadley Boyd, who lives a block away on Davis Street NW, said that she understands the need for the project but thinks that the neighbors would be more understanding if the government would give out information on the project schedule and on when loud noises or shaking can be expected. She also said the windows of her home sometimes rattle when the blasts occur.
"It's an explosion," she said. "My contractor told me it sounded like dynamite underground. You feel it more than you can hear it."
Bilha Bryant, who lives on nearby Edmunds Street NW, agreed. She said that her dog runs in from the back yard whenever there is an underground explosion.
"The only unhappiness is that they're really not informing anyone," she said.
"If I were doing that, all the neighbors would need to know what I was doing."
Edward Bryant, her husband, isn't as bothered by the shaking. He said the vibrations are more pronounced in the back yard than in the home.

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