I had this Washington Post article before Christmas, but have waited until now to post the following excerpt:
A Sept. 11 Tribute Sits in DecayI recall some of the media coverage of that firehouse in the days after 9/11. Calls for a better fire station came from different quarters, and all were in agreement that it was way past time for improvements to the old facility.
Settlement to Decide Who Pays for Firehouse's $2.5 Million Repair
Sunday, December 18, 2005
"Arlington County's new fire station on South Hayes Street was supposed to open this year as a state-of-the-art tribute to the firefighters of Engine Company No. 5, the first responders to the fiery scene at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Today, the $4.3 million building sits incomplete and nearly abandoned, the construction site shuttered since the general contractor was fired in June. Inside, black mold grows on the walls. Shoddy brickwork on a curved wall above a set of glass windows is visible from the street.
"What went wrong with Fire Station No. 5 -- a messy battle that has included charges and countercharges of malfeasance between Arlington County and Dynasty Construction Inc. -- will probably one day be decided by a judge.
"But for now, Arlington County has a decaying building that may cost as much as $2.5 million to repair and complete, a bill that could be passed on to county taxpayers, pending the outcome of a settlement with the contractor's insurance company.
"Firefighters who have observed the drama say privately that the county has only itself to blame. Records show that when the county awarded the contract to Dynasty in October 2003, officials were deeply enmeshed in a battle with the contractor over the remodeling of the Arlington Arts Center, which has had similar mold problems and years of delays....
"The president of the Bethesda firm, John Barrett III, denied that his company is at fault and said that county workers caused the delays in both projects by failing to get construction permits and other approvals on time....
"The current firehouse -- a low-slung brick building just south of Pentagon City shopping mall -- holds a special place in the hearts of many nearby residents. Locals flocked there in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, working day and night to organize the massive outpouring of food and donations that streamed in...."
In both New York City and here in the Washington, D.C. area, the brave 9/11 firefighters--heroes--responded quickly and without hesitation, despite the possibility, now understood to be remote, of the additional danger from radiation or from biological agents. Arlington County can do better than to allow a delay in the promised tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of Engine Company No. 5. Furthermore, the new fire station is more than a tribute: it is a necessity in growing Arlington County. Shame on the politicians who have allowed and continue to allow the delay in recognizing the 9/11 heroes and in protecting the citizens and the taxpayers!