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GSA Helps Congress Transform Lorton to Field of Dreams

GSA # 9845

July 9, 2001
Contact: Viki Reath (202) 501-1231
viki.reath@gsa.gov

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. General Services Administration today announced it has completed its preparations for transferring the Lorton Correctional Complex to Fairfax County. The county plans to transform most of the 2,700 acres into open space, parks, schools and recreation.

"GSA has worked with Congress and the community over the past two-and-a-half years to make this dream of converting the land to a better community use a reality," said Stephen A. Perry, GSA Administrator. "We expect to transfer a major portion of the property this year and the remainder in 2002."

The District of Columbia has operated the Lorton Complex, which has housed as many as 9,000 inmates at one time, since 1910. Congress asked GSA to transfer the property, as directed in the Lorton Correctional Act of 1998 (The Lorton Act). The land will be used according to the Laurel Hill Site Plan, approved by Fairfax County in 1999.

U.S. Reps. Tom Davis and Jim Moran, who represent Fairfax County, have worked hard to make the dream come true. All inmates will be gone by the end of the year, as directed by The Lorton Act.

"I count the imminent closing of Lorton prison among my top accomplishments as a Member of Congress," Mr. Davis said. "I can't tell you how many people thought this simply couldn't be done; yet here we are today, just a few months away from the last prisoner being transferred. This has been an incredible coup for a county that is crunched for open space. That's been my goal from the beginning: to ensure that as much of this land as possible is set aside for recreational use. Given that we all were in uncharted waters here - there was no precedent, no blueprint - the closing of Lorton has been an unparalleled success."

Mr. Moran said, "As significant as the closure of Lorton prison is, it is only half the story. In a region that is home to some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation, and where communities are desperate for more recreational and open space, the accomplishment we tour today marks a milestone in land use planning. It is an important alternative that other communities can follow when acquiring surplus federal property. We are deeply indebted to the General Services Administration and the Department of Interior who have fulfilled their missions admirably providing the expertise and the patience to work with a host of federal state and local partners to ensure the property is cleaned up, protected and transferred to Fairfax County on schedule."

GSA, the federal government's chief landlord, has worked with Congress and the community throughout its preparations for transfer. Under the Laurel Hill plan, homes will be built on 200 acres north of Silverbrook Road, and three schools are planned on approximately 100 acres.

Congress directed GSA to transfer the property consistent with the requirements of the National Environmental and Historic Preservation acts. Following those requirements, GSA assessed the environmental and historical significance of the transfer. Only 13 acres - 0.5 percent of the total area -- required environmental cleanup. During the cleanup of three firing ranges and one landfill, GSA removed more than 1,000 truckloads of contaminated soil. GSA also worked with Virginia historic preservation officials to create a plan to examine every proposed use on 552 acres eligible to be listed on the National Register.

GSA is the executive management agency responsible for providing one-stop, workplace solutions for other federal agencies, including workspace for 1 million federal workers and procurement services to acquire the telecommunications, information technology and other products and services they need to accomplish their missions. The agency has 14,000 employees and a $15.5 billion annual operating budget. The Federal Property and Administrative Services Act created GSA in 1949 to improve efficiency in government.

For more information, please visit GSA's Lorton web site: http://propertydisposal.gsa.gov/lorton.