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We have a lot of staffers here. Now as Members, we pay a fee for the use of the House gym, and I would think that if you are going to blue sky some ideas around here for the use, I would hope that you would incorporate at least from this Member's point of view, the idea of some kind of facility for the staff here. As a former staffer, as a jogger, as somebody who believes that if we are going to encourage people to exercise, then we ought to give them the facility to do that, and perhaps incorporate the idea that there would be some fee to belong to whatever facility long range we think about doing.
But I think it is silly to have one or two showers that are going to accommodate thousands of people who would like to go out at noontime and exercise, but do not do it because the facilities are not available.
So that is this Member's idea about that, and I hope that if you do decide to do something with that property, you will incorporate or at least think about that idea.
Mr. HANTMAN. I have brought the issue of programming and House needs—we have a House officers meeting with Jeff Trandahl and Jay Eagen and the Sergeant at Arms and we talk about the issues and we talk about beginning to get the needs together, and this is a real need that should be collected and developed into a “what if" type of program.
Mr. LAHOOD. The truth is I know there is an athletic club close by, but most staffers couldn't avail themselves of it and I think long range we ought to think about it.
Mr. MORAN. LaHood and Moran are really interested in this and are not going to give up on it.
Mr. WAMP. Me, too.
BOTANIC GARDEN CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULE
Mr. LAHOOD. As the newest member of this committee, I will tell you this: I also agree with what Mr. Moran said about the green space that is next to the Botanic Garden. That is a joke. And as somebody who jogs by there on a regular basis, to shut that whole thing down that was a joke. But I will just say this, I think the Botanic Garden has taken longer to build than it took to build Rome. And as a new member of this committee, I don't know what all the reasons are, but I think that is a joke to drive by there and to see that it is not open, it is still under construction. I think people wonder what the heck is going on around here.
Now, I am sure you must have a very good explanation for that, and I don't know if we have time hear it. If we do, Mr. Chairman, I would like to hear it because I think
Mr. TAYLOR. I was going to ask for an update in my next section of questions.
Mr. LAHOOD. You are lucky that Mr. Lewis is not here because your ears would have been burning yesterday during the committee hearing to hear what he had to say about it. He is quite upset about it. If you have an explanation, I would like to hear it, if you can indulge me, Mr. Chairman, to do that.
Mr. HANTMAN. The construction of the conservatory is one year
last year. They will be in September of this year. There was always a period after that time when we would come in and do the replanting of the plants, a 4 to 6-month period, and we are still going to be doing that. We are doing that right now. We welcome the opportunity to give you a tour of the facility. It is a wonderful, magnificent state of the art facility and an awful lot of work was done below ground. There is air conditioning, misting systems, different plants from all parts of the world that we control in a state of the art facility.
Aside from the issue of the structural issue that we talked to before, we lost 4 months on the time frame of trying to get that and making sure the structure was being redesigned appropriately and the glazing continued. There was an article in last month's Washington Post. It was headed: “so many jobs, so few workers.” it was talking about a construction company getting the National Archives building for 75 million, celebrating, and finding out they couldn't find the workers to do the work. There is a quote from Dale Martin from the Washington Building Congress, a trade association: The manpower just isn't there. Contractors say their biggest challenge is finding laborers.
We have had problems with this contractor properly staffing the job. We gave them a cure notice earlier this year indicating if they did not get more people on the job and finish the job that we would default them. Since that time they found a new electrical contractor. The other one was not doing their job, and if you cannot put the conduits in the building, you can't close up the walls. There is a lot of things that follow on behind the electrical work. We have a new electrical contractor on the job, the work is proceeding, and it is, in fact, a year late.
So we are part of a larger metropolitan area with a totally full construction industry. We cannot find subcontractors in this environment. We have something like 30 office buildings being built in D.C. now, new office buildings, 20 out in the Dulles corridor. People cannot find the labor to do that. I think our contractor bit off more than he could chew and was not able to staff our job appropriately, and we have suffered because of that.
Mr. LAHOOD. So that does not speak well of the construction of the Visitor's Center.
Mr. HANTMAN. Because of the economy going down, we may be seeing a turn. We have a 20 percent vacancy rate in office buildings and if some of those buildings are not staffed, they may not continue building. We have contingencies built in that $265 million for construction as well to make sure that we can buy those jobs appropriately.
VISITOR CENTER IMPACT ON TREES
Mr. LAHOOD. Let me ask one question about the Visitor's Center. The trees that are there on the East campus, what will happen to those?
Mr. HANTMAN. A lot of the publicity we have had specifically dealt with the memorial trees that we have on site. We have close to a thousand trees on the overall campus, perhaps 400 on the East area. There were 13 memorial trees involved in the footprint of the
of the project and we are hoping to improve that for one or two of the others. We will be taking cuttings from some of the existing trees or replacing them in kind and rededicating some of those trees.
Mr. LAHOOD. How many trees will be lost?
Mr. HANTMAN. Fifty-two trees will be lost and we will be replanting 54. The allee of trees coming into East Capitol Street was planted 100 years ago. There were 34 of those at that point in time, 16 already have been lost. I think there are 18 left. They are beautiful trees but the whole intent of Frederick Law Olmstead of having a row of trees on East Capitol Street in line with the Dome has been lost.
In Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, all the trees were planted at the same time. They are all dying at the same time and they are having to come up with new trees. So our plan is to replace those trees with a new allee of trees once the construction has been taken care of. We will actually have more trees than before and reinforce the original Olmstead design.
Mr. LAHOOD. But the beauty of those trees lies in the size of them and that will not be realized for several decades.
Mr. HANTMAN. I believe the trees are going to have to grow some to get back to where they are now.
Nr. LAHOOD. I am probably one of the few Members of the House who thinks this is a lousy, lousy thing to do. I think building this Visitor's Center and taking down those trees and thinking that you are going to replace them, it is not going to happen. I have never really had a chance to express that, but since I am on this committee I am going to express it. I think it is a dumb idea to take those trees down. I think we are going to be sorry that we did that.
I know a lot of people support the Visitor's Center and I know people think the Visitor's Center is going to be a wonderful thing, and probably will be, but we will never replace the beauty of those trees. If those trees could talk, we will have some great stories being told. You are never going to replace those. That is my feeling, and I am sticking with it.
I also support the idea of trying to connect the Library of Congress to the Visitor's Center. I think it is silly for us not to do that. And I guess we will revisit that later on, but if we are going to spend this amount of money and not connect one of the most beautiful buildings and one that is there for us, I think we are making a mistake.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. KAPTUR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to be back on this subcommittee and to join dear friends Charlie Taylor and Jim Moran and all the others. I wanted to follow on something that Ray mentioned. On the tree question, I am one of those tree huggers. I love trees. And I know there is a lot of publicity about this. Can you provide us as a subcommittee with a more definitive explanation of the footprint of the trees that are out there today? You say there are a thousand, and then those that are scheduled to be taken, maybe with some understanding of their height, and
I would like to know more. I think the public probably wants to know more, and sometimes the press does not always accurately represent what we are dealing with here.
So if the gentleman would agree with me to ask for further explanation, sometimes good information leads to better decisions, so I would appreciate that.
Mr. HANTMAN. Absolutely.
[Subsequent to the hearing, the Architect of the Capitol provided the following:)
BEST LOCATION FOR CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER IS ADJACENT TO U.S. CAPITOL Recently, questions have been raised about the impact of the upcoming Capitol Visitor Center on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. These location questions essentially can be pared down to two principal issues:
Why is the new Capitol Visitor Center being constructed underground on the East Front of the Capitol?
Why do the Capitol grounds have to be disturbed during construction of the Capitol Visitor Center?
The Capitol Visitor Center is being located underground, adjacent to, and connected with the U.S. Capitol, for several key reasons.
Most of the U.S. Capitol dates back more than 140 years. It needs upgrading and modernization that would be impossible to perform in the structure itself without substantially altering its appearance and historic architectural integrity.
Building underground allows the visitor center to be largely invisible from an exterior perspective, thereby complementing and enhancing but not competing with, or detracting from, the existing Capitol building.
Building adjacent to the U.S. Capitol allows the aesthetics, as well as the functioning, of the U.S. Capitol to be improved in the most appropriate manner.
A visitor center located any significant distance from the Capitol could not adequately address the physical inadequacies, accessibility, safety, and security needs of the existing U.S. Capitol that are among the major reasons why the visitor center is necessary
The Capitol Visitor Center has been carefully designed, and will be carefully managed during construction, to minimize adverse effects on the U.S. Capitol and its grounds during construction, and to improve both aesthetically and functionally upon completion. It has been designed to fill the area beneath the existing asphalt parking lot without major impact on areas of the grounds other than the gently sloping entrance ramps and stairs from East First Street.
The major needs for improvement at the U.S. Capitol include improved fire and safety systems; better accessibly for disabled persons; improvements in daily functional needs, such as routine deliveries and garbage removal; improved security for the entire Capitol and all who enter it; a better educational experience for visitors; basic visitor services like food and restrooms; more space for group meetings; an auditorium-style meeting room sufficiently large and modern to provide for multimedia presentations and secure briefings; a more beautiful forecourt for the building; and space for essential future expansion. All of these needs are met by creation of the Capitol Visitor Center.
In short, the Capitol Visitor Center is essential to the continued and improved functioning of the U.S. Capitol itself. Change is always accompanied by some loss, but change is unavoidable and, in this case, both necessary and beneficial.
When complete, the East Front of the Capitol and its Grounds will more closely resemble the 1874 Frederick Law Olmsted vision than is true of the Grounds as they exist in 2001. The asphalt parking lot will be replaced by a gracioius granite plaza offering places to sit and reflecting pools; more trees will be planted than removed as part of the project; pedestrians will no longer be forced to compete with cars and trucks to enter the Capitol; and lines of sight designed by Olmsted, and a double row of trees as he intended for the east approach to the Capitol, will be restored.
Although some trees must be removed for the project, only 13 East Front memorial trees are directly affected by the project. Present plans are for five of these to be removed and replaced, and eight to be moved to elsewhere on the Capitol Grounds. Arborists will attempt to obtain cuttings from all 13 trees in order to replant those that are lost in other locations on the Capitol grounds. If these efforts be followed—an excellent, robust specimen, usually of the same species, will become the replacement memorial tree.
In regard to non-memorial trees, most of those affected are tulip poplars along East Capitol Street, and many of these are near the end of their natural lifespan. These trees will be replaced with 15-to-20-foot tulip poplars in a manner that restores the original intention of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Overall, there will be more trees replaced on the Capitol Grounds than are lost during construction.
Most of the 99 memorial trees on the Capitol Grounds will not be directly affected by the project. Those not affected include the Lady Bird Johnson Kousa dogwood tree, a pair of oaks planted in honor of two former Speakers, and five crab apple trees planted to honor the Sullivan brothers. Others will be among the eight moved, including the Pat Nixon magnolia, the Liberty Elm, the Speaker Albert redbud, and the Martin Luther King Jr. elm.” (Actually, this elm died of natural causes and was replaced in 1993 by a zelkova, and the Speaker Albert redbud is a replacement for the original memorial tree that also died, which highlights the fact that all these trees have finite life spans). We also are relocating nine non-memorial trees, and we will replant others lost in the construction project—more than a quarter of which are nearing the end of their natural lives and would be replaced soon in any event.
CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER TREE FACTS
OVERALL TREE NUMBERS.
Total Trees on Capitol Square: 920.
MEMORIAL TREE NUMBERS
Total Memorial Trees on Capitol Square: 99.
EIGHT MEMORIAL TREES TO BE TRANSPLANTED
Southern Magnolia-Magnolia grandiflora-planted April 10, 1973—gift from the Ladies of the Senate to Mrs. Richard Nixon
Tulip Poplar-Liriodendron tulipifera-planted March 27, 1978-Liberty Tree seedling—sponsor Sen. Charles Mathias)
Tulip Poplar—Liriodendron tulipifera-planted March 26, 1981–South Carolina Forestry Assoc.—sponsor Sen. Strom Thurmond)
Japanese Zelkova—Zelkova serrata-originally was an American Elm Planted January 9, 1984—died/transplanted Zelkova as replacement 1993—in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tulip Poplar-Liriodendron tulipifera-planted May 29, 1986—in honor of Rep. Barber B. Conable, Jr.
Little Leaf Linden-Tilia cordata-planted July 14, 1987—in memory of Sen. Edward Zorinsky-Planted by Mrs. Edward Zorinsky
Liberty Elm-Ulmus americana “Libertas”-planted October 22, 1993—State of Massachusetts—sponsor Sen. Edward Kennedy
Redbud—Cercis canadensis-original planted December 9, 1976—died/replanted October 14, 1992—in honor of Speaker Carl Albert
MEMORIAL TREES TO BE REMOVED AND REPLACED Red Oak-Quercus rubra-planted November 18, 1963–in honor or Rep. James C. Auchincloss (New Jersey)-in fair condition but is in decline and has a lot of dieback
Sugar Maple-Acer saccharum-planted April 2, 1973—State of Wisconsin-sponsor Sen. Gaylord Nelson)—in very good condition, and we are looking into the possibility of moving it
Hybrid “Autumn Gold” Elm-Ulmus sapparo 'Autumn Gold-planted April 29, 1977–National Arbor Day-sponsors Rep. Hamilton Fish, Sen. Jacob K. Javits and Rep. Frederick W. Richmond-in good condition’; although it is likely to be immov