What’s the deal with… the restricted area near the Mount Vernon campus?

Every day students ride the shuttle 2.8 miles to GW’s other campus. And every day hundreds of eyes glance at a plot of green, grassy land situated right before turning into the Mount Vernon campus’ entryway.

What makes this land conspicuous is the fact that it’s raised, fenced off with barbed wire and there are bright scary signs that say, “U.S. PROPERTY NO TRESPASSING.”

What’s even more bizarre is that when this square piece of property is looked up on a Google map, it’s labeled as “Reservoir.” A water reservoir, no less. These contradicting findings make one wonder what exactly is being hidden on this plot of land adjacent to GW’s Mount Vernon campus.

A small sign on the side of the fence said it is prohibited to bring in the regular dangerous items that are more or less banned from commercial airlines as well, like explosive chemicals and any sort of weapon. Also banned: any form of media recording devices, as well as a ban on photographing or even sketching any part of the property.

What the sign did say, however, was that this property was authorized by the U.S. Army under the Internal Security Act of 1950. This act, also known as the McCarran Act, required a registration of all Communist organizations as well as all individuals that were suspected to be engaged in “un-American” activities.

When the D.C. Office of Zoning, Office of Tax and Revenue, and other administrative offices were contacted to try to find out the use of the land, representatives from those offices said the zone that the property is located on is recognized, but the property itself is not. The U.S. Army refused to answer any questions about their property on Foxhall Road.

Matt Lindsay, assistant director of Media Relations, said GW has no connection to the land and does not know anything about it.

“I really don’t know what’s there or who owns it,” he said. “We are not affiliated with that land in any way.”

Among many GW students, rumors say that under this land is an unused (or perhaps still functioning) bunker for times of emergency.

“I’ve heard that’s where the president goes if there’s a terrorist attack,” sophomore Courtney Segal said.

Perhaps it used to be a surveillance site for un-American citizens conducting un-American activities, or an emergency shelter for government officials. We may never know, exactly, what the deal is with this piece of land.

“What’s the deal with …” is a regular feature in the Life section. If you have an idea for the story, e-mail features@gwhatchet.com.

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