Army Decision Places Final Piece of BRAC Puzzle
Date: October 02, 2008 06:35AM
FYI, for those interested ... this is the account of this week's BRAC decision from the installation newspaper, the Belvoir Eagle.
Army Decision Places Final Piece of BRAC Puzzle
By Travis Edwards, Fort Belvoir BRAC Outreach Chief
The Department of the Army announced Monday that the future home of the 6,400 personnel associated with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, Recommendation 133, will be the Mark Center in Alexandria, Va.
"The Mark Center has been deemed the best value for the Army after considering the cost, the schedule, the security requirements, transportation and other critical factors,” said Fort Belvoir Installation Commander Colonel Jerry Blixt. “Now we, Fort Belvoir, must continue to move forward to complete the BRAC mission given to us by Congress and the President.”
With the decision made, the Army must now purchase the Mark Center property for Fort Belvoir to meet BRAC law which states all personnel will be “realigned to Fort Belvoir”.
The decision puts in place the last piece of the post’s BRAC mission that realigns a total of more than 19,300 workers to the installation.
“The Army undertook this additional analysis of BRAC 133 following an agreement to cap EPG at 8,500 personnel, a decision based mainly on local concern for traffic in and around EPG,” said Fort Belvoir Deputy Garrison Commander for Transformation and BRAC Colonel Mark Moffatt referring to the year-long evaluation and selection board that studied alternative sites such as the General Services Administration warehouse site in Fairfax and the Victory Center and Mark Center commercial sites in Alexandria.
“Preventing the Washington Headquarters Service from moving to the Engineering Proving Ground benefits the region’s commuters,” said Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.). Moran’s 8th Virginia District includes part of Fort Belvoir, Springfield and the Mark Center. “Transportation studies showed that locating the headquarters there as dictated in the Army’s original plan would increase commuting times along I-395 and Route 1 by 2-3 hours per day. In that respect this decision is a victory for Northern Virginia commuters.”
Other parts of Fort Belvoir and the EPG are in the 11th District of U.S. Congressman Tom Davis (R).
“The Base Realignment and Closure Commission dealt us a tough hand in Northern Virginia in terms of traffic,” Davis said in a release Monday. “And the worst part of it was the initial decision to send 18,000 workers to the Engineer Proving Ground in Springfield, which would’ve been a commuting disaster for that entire part of the county. I’m happy to say we’ve worked with the Army to reduce that number substantially. I wish Mark Center was served directly by Metro, but this still represents a huge victory for Northern Virginia commuters.”
The BRAC 133 recommendation consists of several Defense Department-level agencies and personnel whose move is being managed by the Washington Headquarters Service.
"The Mark Center site minimizes to the greatest extent practicable disruption of current commuting needs and mission coordination requirements of the workers," said James Turkel, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who led the evaluation team. "It will also require little to no change in contractor support relationships, as well as changes to residency or schools requirements for the workers."
Duke Realty Corporation, owner of the Mark Center and the16-acre land parcel for BRAC 133 already has supporting infrastructure in place for the BRAC move, according to Duke Realty officials.
“We are dedicated to the on time delivery of the new home for the 6,400 Department of Defense associates who will be relocating in 201,” said Denny Oklak, Duke’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Mark Center provides the optimal solution for the Department of the Army, in meeting the space, transportation, security and timeline needs for the relocation.”
According to Duke Realty, the site already has the needed zoning approvals from the City of Alexandria.
“The Department of Defense’s decision to purchase this site and construct a major office building, within close proximity to Washington D.C. and the Pentagon, affirms Alexandria as one of the top locations in the region,” said Alexandria Mayor William Euille. “We look forward to welcoming WHS’s employees in 2011, when the new facility is completed.”
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, construction is scheduled to begin at the Mark Center in January 2009
With the half-way point of the implementation timeline just days behind them, Fort Belvoir master planners can now address the whole Fort Belvoir BRAC mission.
“We’re glad to finally have this decision, which means all the pieces are in place,” said Fort Belvoir Director of Public Affairs Don Carr. “Now we can concentrate on building the office space for the service members and federal employees who are part of BRAC 133 and get it up and running by the Congress-mandated Sept. 15, 2011 deadline.”
"Reducing the total number of jobs coming to this area certainly helps offset traffic and other concerns with having all 19,300 jobs in Fairfax," Carr said. "Putting these jobs in Alexandria means 6,400 fewer jobs coming into Fairfax County's part of Fort Belvoir."
Carr said the number of jobs being moved into the Fairfax part of Fort Belvoir is now 12,900 - 8,500 to EPG and 4,400 to main post.
“While I’m disappointed the GSA Warehouse in Springfield was not chosen, the push to redevelop the site will continue,” Moran said. “A location so close to Metro should be housing workers, not documents and equipment. I plan to continue working with the Fairfax County Board and other leaders in Southeast Fairfax to redevelop this grossly underutilized facility.”
“I appreciate all the hard work Army officials and civilians put into coming to this decision,” Moran said. “It was a monumental effort and they did an excellent job keeping all the stakeholders informed throughout the process.”
“We will continue to strengthen existing relationships within the local counties and government entities such as VDOT and FHWA,” Carr said, “and build new relationships with Alexandria and around the region.”
Fort Belvoir master planners, with all the puzzle pieces now on the table, will continue to work towards completing their mission and meeting their deadline, having just marked the half-way point in the implementation schedule.