- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Wharf has been built, and now the public and the dollars will come.

The penultimate issue: Is law enforcement prepared for the onslaught?

The shiniest and newest economic engine in the nation’s capital is The Wharf. Located aside the Washington Channel, it opened to the public Thursday to much fanfare touting new residential waterfront digs, new eateries for foodies and specialty transportation options for locals and tourists.

There’s also a new 6,000-seat performing arts venue called The Anthem, where it won’t matter much whether you sat, knelt or stood your ground during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Yep, The Wharf is a splendid-looking attraction, pairing nicely as it does with Maryland’s National Harbor, Virginia’s Ronald Reagan-Washington National Airport and the National Mall, home to the District’s free tourist stuff.

And come spring, the cherry blossoms will be in bloom again, the Washington Nationals begin a new season of play and D.C. United starts kicking it at its new digs, Audi Field.

The massacre in Las Vegas has raised the bar on safety and security, first responders, the hotel industry and restaurants, entertainment venues and residential complexes. That’s where D.C. police, federal law enforcers and Diane Groomes come in.

A high measure of confidence is placed in Ms. Groomes, who stepped down as assistant Metropolitan Police chief this spring to become chief of security and safety at The Wharf. Ms. Groomes, who served in the police department for 27 years, now oversees a new community that spans nearly a mile of waterfront, 24 acres of land and more than 50 acres of water.

The District has long patrolled the Potomac River as part of its ordinary policing chores and began its Harbor Patrol Unit in 1861. It has come to the rescue during such horrifying disasters as when, in, January 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge, then fell into the icy Potomac during evening rush hour. The Harbor Unit also rescues people and recovers corpses.

Longtime and new Southwest residents expect much from D.C. police and fire/EMS units, who now must tend to their routine emergency calls and step them up a few notches because of the new foot, bicycle and vehicular traffic at The Wharf — and Thursday’s grand opening merely celebrates part of the project. The opening of Part 2 is a couple of years down the road.

The black ink expects $92 million in revenue from the current Wharf project, though, and that can pay for beefed-up police patrols and new equipment for the Harbor Unit and fire/EMS.

And if D.C. Council member Charles Allen has his way, as he usually does as chairman of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, D.C. first responders will get everything they need and most of what they want.

The late Al Jolson, Hollywood’s “cantor” to America, wouldn’t recognize his old residence on 4 Street SW, and Marvin Gaye, who lived on 1st Street SW, wouldn’t be able to find his home because it was torn down decades ago.

What’s gone is gone.

If D.C. officials play their 92 million cards right, the new will continue mixing with the old, especially the old part that sells such affordable, fresh seafood as salmon, crackers and bushels of crabs.

Rebuild it and they will continue to come.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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