Chamber Hears BRAC Briefing

Chamber Hears BRAC Briefing

Communications plan by planners still on the drawing board.

Three West Potomac High School students were recognized for their essays on “Good Citizenship” by the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce Tuesday during their regular Business Lunch at the Mount Vernon Country Club.

Nina O’Donnell, Cristina Brown, and Alsha Javed, were each presented a certificate of acknowledgement and cash awards of $100, $75 and $50 respectively for their first, second and third place entries. Jointly sponsored by the Chamber and Fort Belvoir Credit Union, each essay was judged by Credit Union personnel, according to Holly Dougherty, Chamber executive director.

“It seems that every time one of these contests comes around it’s always the girls that win. The guys seem to drop away,” said Chamber Vice President Nate Wilson in announcing the recipients.

Following the awards presentation, the audience was briefed on actions at Fort Belvoir in preparing for the onslaught of an additional 21,500 personnel as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Report by Joann Banks, deputy to The Garrison Commander.

“We are the largest net gainer in the entire BRAC report. There are 75 different agencies and/or commands coming to Fort Belvoir as a result of BRAC,” she said.

“Fort Belvoir will double in population and size with additional construction estimated to top $3 billion. By September 2011 BRAC must be completed. That’s the law,” she said.

“We have started our new master plan which will include the Engineering Proving Grounds. Under the first master plan EPG was not allowed to be used. Now, due to the size and impact of BRAC the EPG will be used,” Banks said.

But, she promised, “We are not going to build on the wetlands, the sloping hills or other such areas. Some of the facilities on base now will be emptied as a result of BRAC and redirected.” One such facility is the U.S. Army Materiel Command, scheduled to be relocated to Red Stone Arsenal in Alabama.

Unfortunately, neither the master plan consultant nor members of the Belvoir New Vision Planners joined Banks for the presentation. The master plan consultant notified the Chamber at the last minute he was unavailable and, according to Banks, the New Vision planning team was not permitted to participate by direction from the U.S. Department of The Army.

“They are not ready to communicate with the community at large yet. However, they are in the process of developing a strategy for communicating and coordinating with the community,” she said.

Developing that strategy and preparing a preliminary siting report for the Department of Defense by June 30 are the two immediate tests for the BNVP, Banks told Chamber members. Another meeting of the Fort Belvoir Advisory Board, which includes Mount Vernon and Lee District supervisors Gerald Hyland and Dana Kauffman, is scheduled for June 22 to review the report before it goes to The Pentagon.