- The Sept. 1 hostage situation at Discovery headquarters in Silver Spring prompted the company to conduct a security review of its building. (Photo: Jay Westcott)
Discovery Communications will eventually re-open its garden to the public, but not before building an 8-foot tall fence around it first.
The Silver Spring-based company cited security concerns when it closed the garden following the Sept. 1 hostage situation. But by keeping it closed, Discovery has technically been in violation of its agreement with the Montgomery County Planning Board. Now the company wants to change that agreement by creating a security buffer (a fence with some shrubs) between the garden and the company's daycare center playground.
According to Discovery's site plan, the garden has to be open to the public during daylight hours throughout the week. The company conducted a security assessment of its building after the hostage situation and we reported yesterday that it finally asked for changes in its agreement with the county.
The addition of the fence appears to have been recommended by an independent security consulting firm. In the site plan amendment filed with the planning board, attorneys Stephen Kaufman and Debra Borden write on behalf of Discovery:
As you know, on September 1, 2010 an individual armed with incendiary devices and a firearm entered the lobby of One Discovery Place, and held Discovery employees hostage in a standoff with police for several hours. After that tragic occurrence, and upon the advice of police officials, Discovery initiated a full review of building security and hired an independent consultant to make recommendations aimed at improving the safety of employees, visitors and vendors, as well as the safety of children enrolled in Discovery's 9,296 +/- square-foot child day care center located on-site.
Of course, hostage-taker James J. Lee didn't come through the garden or playground; he came through the lobby (Discovery's public lobby has remained closed since, and the company is also requesting some minor security and layout enhancements before reopening that as well). But even though the garden has little to do with the lobby, the county will probably be lenient on this requested change, especially now that new details have emerged about how much damage Lee's bomb could have done.