Friday, December 14, 2007

Lt. Gov. Brown proposes plan to get companies to help pay for roads and schools

Workers are expected to break ground this week on the first building to go in at Aberdeen Proving Ground's GATE project, according to a story in Friday's Aegis. As construction gets ready to begin on the Government and Technology Enterprise business park, state officials are looking for ways to get the private companies that will come there to help pay for new schools, roads and utilities in the area. The Aegis reports that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is Chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Subcabinet, is proposing a plan that would allow governments to negotiate up-front payments from these companies for infrastructure needs. Officials are concerned that these companies are likely to be exempt from some taxes and up-front payments would provide governments with money needed right away to accommodate the expected growth. The story says Brown is expected to present his plan to Gov. Martin O'Malley on Monday.

Friday, November 23, 2007

BRAC plan says Harford County could get a new school for Ph.D.'s in tech fields

Harford County could get a new four-year school for earning higher level degrees in technology fields, according to a story in this morning's Aegis. The school would resemble an applied physics lab and would provide the research and resources needed for Masters and Ph.D. degrees, the story says. This information was included in the Maryland BRAC Action Plan put together by by a state subcabinet headed by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and released in draft form on Nov. 16. The plan says a timeline for a feasibility study for this kind of an institution is scheduled to be offered next year.

The plan also calls for the relocation of the Aberdeen MARC station and improvements to the Edgewood station to improve north and south commuter rail times, the story says.

It goes on to say that the plan calls for:

  • interchange improvements at Route 24 and 924 by 2011
  • new lots at the park and ride at 152 and Route 24 by 2011
  • deck replacement on the Hatem Memorial Bridge by 2011
  • resurfacing of Route 40 from Route 152 to the Route 24 overpass by 2008
  • resurfacing of Route 152 to the APG gate
  • resurfacing of Rote 465 to Beards Hill Road by 2009

The plan also calls for completing a community safety and enhancement project from Route 24 to Willoughby Beach Road by 2011 and for wastewater treatment plant upgrades in Aberdeen, Havre de Grace, Joppatown and Sod Run.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Harford County leads the pack in BRAC households

The Washington Post reports today that Harford County is expected to get the largest percentage of new households coming to Maryland as a result of BRAC. Of the 25,300 new households expected, Harford County (home of APG) gets 26 percent, Anne Arundel County (home of Fort Meade) gets 18 percent, Baltimore County gets 14 percent, Baltimore City gets 10 percent, Montgomery County gets 9 percent, Prince Georges and Cecil County tie at 8 percent and Howard County gets 7 percent. These estimates came from the state's Department of Housing and Community Development. The story also said:

"According to the state, about 54 percent of the units would be for high-income households making more than $75,000; 28 percent for medium-income households earning $30,000 to $75,000; and about 18 percent for lower-income households."

This is how the BRAC job numbers break down, according to the story:

" ... Fort Meade stands to gain about 5,700 jobs directly and thousands more through related businesses. More than 9,000 jobs will go directly to Aberdeen Proving Ground, and additional workers will be assigned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Looks like New Jersey can't stop BRAC from coming -- contract for lab complex awarded and 32 jobs coming this fall

A $477.5 million contract the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a Washington firm yesterday to build an an office and laboratory complex at Aberdeen Proving Ground could be the signal that disgruntled New Jersey officials can't stop BRAC from coming. The contract awarded to a joint venture called Tompkins- Turner Grunley/Kinsley, according to the Baltimore Sun, will allow preparations to start for the 5,000 jobs expected to relocate from Fort Monmouth to APG by 2011. An advance team of 32 from New Jersey are expected here sometime this fall.

According to the Sun story:

"New Jersey politicians have sought congressional action to block closure of the 90-year-old fort, and a union representing Monmouth workers filed a federal lawsuit. But the Asbury Park Press reported Wednesday that the union failed in a bid to get an injunction barring the Army from going forward with the construction of the new 'Center of Excellence' complex at Aberdeen."

In other BRAC news, ABC2News.com is reporting that Harford County's Health officer is concerned about the increased traffic BRAC will bring and how that might impact our health.
According to the website:

"Dr. Andrew Bernstein fears those people will get into cars, leading to more air pollution. He's advising county leaders to bring in additional mass transit."

"The location of communities next to large highways or major intersections - there's a direct relationship between that and rates of asthma in children," said Dr. Bernstein."

Good thought. But I'm betting it's going to be hard to keep these 5,000 or more folks out of their cars, asthma or no asthma. Unless, of course, they get that hovercraft up and running. That just might make the commute interesting enough to park and ride.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Harford County's water supply is an environmental issue to watch

The influx of some 30,000 new residents that are expected to come to Harford County in the next few years due to BRAC is likely to bring environmental issues to the fore. Our water supply is one that has been mentioned frequently. A story in Sunday's Baltimore Sun says that the water supply is already an issue this year:

"The prolonged dry spell and lower stream levels have forced suppliers of water to Bel Air and Edgewood Arsenal to switch from their systems to the county's in the past few weeks, while the supplier for Aberdeen Proving Ground plans to make the change as soon as tomorrow."

The story goes on to say that the water supply problem can be easily solved this year:

"We have the water available, but we are cautious,' said Joel Caudill, deputy director of the county Public Works Department. 'Had this happened earlier in the season, when customers were using more water, we may have had some problems.'"

However, with a surge of new residents expected, it's an issue to watch.

Want a BRAC job? Do better in math.

I've noticed a number of news organizations have picked up on the report released Friday by the Fort Meade Alliance that says the state is failing to prepare students to fill all the high-tech jobs BRAC will bring. According to WBAL's version of the story:

"Enrollment for bachelor's degrees in Maryland rose 24 percent between 1994 and 2004, but the number of students pursuing math, engineering and biological sciences dropped."

This is a problem because:

"According to the report, state officials estimate that there will be a 17 percent hike in engineering employment between 2004 and 2014, 'but that can only occur if there is a supply to meet demand.'"

I thought I'd point out that the news is not all dire. If you're preparing for a BRAC job, Harford Community College has in its non-credit class schedule for this fall nine classes dedicated to Homeland Protection & Security. But they're not cheap. You can learn to be a Certified Ethical Hacker in six sessions for $1,795. Or you can learn to be a Certified Information Systems Security Professional in 10 sessions for $1,295. You can learn CompTIA Security+ for $1,895. And if all that is too pricey, you can spring for the $89 Hazwoper 8-hour Annual Refresher. But seeing as these are all pretty expensive, you'd probably do better to do well in math, get a good job and let your company pay for your training.

BRAC town meeting draws residents concerned about crime, terrorism and jobs

Last Wednesday's BRAC town hall meeting filled the Edgewood High School auditorium with people interested in hearing the update on the BRAC Action Plan, according to a story in Friday's Aegis. Forty questions came from the audience, the story said, with some focusing on crime, terrorism and jobs. Officials told the audience that a relocation of the Harford Sheriff's Office's southern precinct should help ensure the Edgewood area gets proper coverage as it grows with BRAC. They are also talking about ways to deal with gangs. Officials assured the crowd that terrorism is usually more likely in big cities and ports, the story said. And APG civilians who don't want to move with their shifting jobs, might find help by visiting the Maryland Workforce Exchange site at https://mwe.dllr.state.md.us/brac/BracContent.asp. The story also said:

"George Mercer, public information officer for APG, said he's willing to work with these civilians, as well as personnel who may be leaving and who wish to sell their property to incoming APG employees."

I know a few people in my neighborhood who were hoping to do the same thing.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Could telecommuting reduce the number of BRAC workers expected to move to Maryland even further?

A story in today's Baltimore Sun suggests that if the Army is willing to extend its limited practice of allowing some of its workers to telecommute, those unwilling to relocate from Fort Monmouth, N.J. might keep their jobs without having to move near Maryland. According to the story:

"Army officials are said to be considering allowing Fort Monmouth workers the option to telecommute, should their jobs move as scheduled to Aberdeen in Harford County. The Asbury Park (N.J.) Press reported last week that an internal survey of employees found only 25 percent willing to move, but that 55 to 60 percent would stay with their jobs if given the option to work either from home or from a telecommuting center in New Jersey."

Click here to read the story.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Maybe Harford County won't be getting quite so many BRAC jobs

A story in Sunday's Baltimore Sun reports that there's a new study out that says Harford County will likely get 3,500 fewer jobs than expected when the BRAC relocation process is completed. The 19,000 jobs for Harford predicted in the study by Sage Policy Group Inc., a Baltimore economic consulting firm, is still a big increase for the county. But the study says it expects the strong office market already available in Baltimore County will attract a lot of companies there. James C. Richardson, Harford County's economic development director, told the Sun Harford County had earlier expected 22,500 jobs. But no one really knows what's going to happen until the jobs start coming and we see how many end up spilling into Cecil County and even Pennsylvania and Delaware. Other findings the story cited from the study include:

• The public school population in the seven-county area will grow by nearly 11,000 students, with the largest increase -- 4,624 -- in Harford County.

• BRAC-related households will have average incomes of $109,000.

• About 86 percent of the people coming to the region will live in owner-occupied houses, and the average home price is estimated at $400,000.

• State gross tax receipts will be boosted by $113 million a year by 2017.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Completion of enviromental study clears way for bids to go out on BRAC construction projects at APG

According to a Baltimore Sun story: Now that the environmental impact study has been completed and approved, demolition and construction can get started at Aberdeen Proving Ground in preparation for the estimated 8,200 jobs to relocate there from Fort Monmouth in New Jersey by 2011. The story says building is expected to start next year and the approval clears the way for bids to go out on the $800 million worth of construction projects. According to the story:

"The first phase of construction will include upgrades to infrastructure and the razing of several aging buildings, many of them former barracks converted into offices."


"During the next four years, the APG will add as many as 8,000 jobs on base and thousands more military, civilian and contractor positions on its periphery. The expansion could bring more than 30,000 people to Harford County, officials said."

The environmental study reviewed the base's impact on traffic and cultural resources as well as:

"... studies of noise pollution, air and water quality, plant and animal life and cultural resources - all reviewed by officials at the Maryland Department of the Environment and the federal Environmental Protection Agency..."

Friday, August 31, 2007

Got a BRAC question? Get it answered at BPAC meeting Sept. 12 in Edgewood

Officials will hand out note cards as you enter their BRAC Planning Action Committee (BPAC) quarterly meeting Sept. 12. They hope you'll fill them out with questions for Harford County Executive David R. Craig to answer at the meeting scheduled 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Edgewood High School auditorium. If you can't make the meeting, a story in today's Aegis says it will be recorded and make available on the Office of Economic Development web page at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov/BRAC.cfm. The Aegis story says the discussion will include updates on land use, transportation and infrastructure, education, technology and workforce development and public safety. Office of Economic Development Director James Richardson, Second District Congressman C. A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger and Aberdeen Proving Group representatives are expected to attend. For more information, call the Harford County Office of Economic Development at 410-638-3059.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Harford County State Delegates James, Stifler and Sen. Jacobs appointed to joint BRAC committee

A recent story on Examiner.com, reported that Harford County got three of its state officials appointed to a joint BRAC committee in Annapolis. They are:

Del. Mary-Dulaney James, D-District 34

Del. Donna Stifler, R-District 35

and Sen. Nancy Jacobs, R-District 34

According to the story, the nine member committee will:

"... be responsible for providing “legislative oversight” for the state’s BRAC preparations and reviewing BRAC-related bills as they pass through the General Assembly. The committee will also help fast-track the approval of transportation, water and sewer projects; affordable housing options for new workers; and school construction projects."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

BRAC's first 32 jobs are coming to APG in the next two to three months, according to the Examiner

A story on Examiner.com today gives a two to three month time frame for those first 32 jobs to arrive at Aberdeen Proving Ground from Fort Monmouth. The story says:

"The first wave of what will be tens of thousands of military workers and their families relocating to Maryland will begin moving here from Fort Monmouth, N.J., in the next two to three months, Army officials said.

The Army has approved the transfer of 32 engineering jobs from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen Proving Ground, acting as an “advance team” for BRAC moves that will shutter Monmouth and transfer most of its functions to Aberdeen."

Folks in New Jersey are still contesting the move, according to the report:

“BRAC law says you’re supposed to have a plan, but they’re executing before they have a plan,” said John Poitras, president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1904, which represents many Monmouth employees. “They want those 32 people down there so they can say, ‘We've already begun the move, might as well let the rest of it go through.’ ”

But the story said that Maryland politicians, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski, are insisting that this move in necessary to prepare for the coming influx.

“The BRAC recommendations, and its great news for APG, were based on mission and merit,” Mikulski told the Examiner.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

32 BRAC jobs are coming from Fort Monmouth early, we just don't know when, according to Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun reported today that the first contingent of workers from the communications and electronics research center at Fort Monmouth are headed for Aberdeen Proving Ground, according to a statement the Army's Materiel Command released late last night. The move was delayed last month due to some efforts in New Jersey to block the move of 5,000 civilian and defense workers from this center. The story said:

"New Jersey officials have complained bitterly about the decision to close Monmouth, and they said many workers likely would retire or quit before moving. The state's congressional delegation introduced bills aimed at delaying the Monmouth closure, pointing to a more than doubling in the estimated costs of relocating the work performed there."


"In the statement released last night, the Army's Materiel Command said the change in course was prompted in part out of 'concern for the welfare of employees and their families, in particular those with school-age children.' It did not elaborate."

No word yet on when these first 32 workers are coming.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Some of the first new BRAC jobs will go to construction workers

Construction workers will be among the first people to get work here due to BRAC. A story in Sunday's Baltimore Sun reports that 200 construction workers will need to be hired to help build a $500 million office complex to house the military's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center at APG. It will hold 5,000 civilian defense workers. But before those workers take jobs here, construction workers will be needed. The Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to select a general contractor for the job by Sept. 25, the story says. James C. Richardson, Harford County's economic development director, told The Sun he would be giving the general contractor a list of local construction workers.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Looks like folks in New Jersey find it rather ironic Maryland needs help handling BRAC

A story in today's Asbury Park Press indicates folks in New Jersey find it rather ironic that the Marylanders who convinced the military to close their Fort Monmouth base and move those jobs to Maryland are now asking the federal government for help paying for the infrastructure upgrades we'll need to accomodate them.

According to the story:

"Maryland's victory in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round is squeezing the state's ability to afford the spoils, and its congressional delegation is asking for more federal money to subsidize the job boom the state lobbied to get.

"In the two years since state officials touted Maryland's readiness to accept Fort Monmouth's mission, state planners have identified at least $16 billion in unfunded infrastructure improvements necessary to accommodate the largest job influx since World War II."

The story goes on to say:

"Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said he wasn't surprised that Maryland is now asking for federal help.

"What happens with BRAC is that they make their case and try and say it's not going to cost them anything, and then when the decision is made they go back and ask for everything imaginable," Pallone said. "That's what you're getting."

The story points out what New Jersey is losing and what Maryland stands to gain with the influx:

"If Fort Monmouth closes as scheduled in 2011, New Jersey also will lose an estimated $3.3 billion the post contributes annually to the state economy. Maryland, however, expects the results of the 2005 BRAC round to pump nearly $10 billion into its economy."

Then it goes on to list Maryland leaders touting the state's readiness for BRAC back when they were making their case to the federal government to bring the jobs here:

"Maryland stands ready to give full support, providing a work force ideally tailored to the future, a quality of life second to none, and infrastructure that meets all future requirements," Aris Melissaratos, then secretary of Maryland's Department of Business & Economic Development, wrote in a Aug. 23, 2005, letter to former BRAC commission Chair Anthony Principi."

It ends by pointing out the Aberdeen -- home to Aberdeen Proving Ground, which is expected to see in influx of about 8,200 BRAC jobs -- has been having its own unrelated troubles of late.

"The Maryland State Prosecutor's Office last month issued a subpoena at City Hall, demanding financial records, travel vouchers and other documents from several members of Simmons' administration, according to City Manager Douglas R. Miller."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Lots of BRAC news cropping up lately

The Baltimore Examiner has several stories that touch on BRAC today:

J. Thomas (Tom) Sadowski, Executive Vice President of The Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, the public/private economic development organization that markets greater Baltimore wrote a commentary piece giving a BRAC update. Click here to read it.

The Examiner also has a story on school overcrowding and its relationship to BRAC:

Overcrowded schools in Harford brace for BRAC

"... (Harford County school) Board members are facing overcrowded elementary schools, a flood of more students from the military’s Base Realignment and Closure Act, and the possibility of redistricting twice in a year.

Prospect Mill Elementary is the most overcrowded school in the county at nearly 150 percent, schools spokesman Don Morrison said in an interview.

An elementary school on Vale Road is slated to be completed in the summer of 2010, easing Prospect Mill’s seams, but after another elementary school is built the following year, the county’s elementary schools will still be at 105 percent capacity, board members said.

And that’s not fac:

From the Examiner June 21:

Army informs county of effects of BRAC’s population influx

"Harford County (Map, News) - An Army official told the Harford County Council Tuesday night that economists predict the county will see 54,000 incoming residents from the federal Base Realignment and Closure initiative.

Col. John Wright, the deputy installation commander for Aberden Proving Ground, made the first BRAC presentation at a council meeting, attempting to prepare it for a population explosion that could strain the county’s infrastructure.

“We’re trying to be ready inside the gate, and give you as much information as we can, so you can be ready outside the gate,” Wright said.

He said that fewer than 50 people already have moved from Fort Monmouth, N.J., though most are expected to relocate around the year 2010.

About 8,200 more civilians will work at APG, meaning that 30,000 people will be going in and out of the base every day, taxing roads like Route 22, which is already notoriously well-traveled, even more, Wright said."

This from the Washington Times today:

Democrat seeks aid for BRAC counties

"Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger says he will attempt to secure $74 million from the fiscal 2008 federal budget to help Maryland prepare for an influx of workers as its military bases expand.
Mr. Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat, will seek $25 million for road improvements and mass transit, $21 million for water and sewer systems and $28 million for infrastructure needs at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, according to the Baltimore Sun."

This from the Washington Business Journal June 20:

Challenges confront Maryland as state prepares for BRAC moves

"Congressional efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, a federal backlog in the processing of security clearance requests and the estimated $4.5 billion in needed construction projects are just a few of the factors that could make it difficult for Maryland to get ready for an influx of 40,000 to 60,000 new jobs by 2011.

"'One concern is probably: A, maintaining the security at these sites; and B, making sure these projects are done on time,' said Heather A. James, counsel at Baltimore-based law firm Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, during a discussion on construction and the federal military's plan for base realignment and closure (BRAC)."

This from the Annapolis Capital Online today:

Officials press to improve MARC

"Concerned about the strain growth at military bases in Maryland will put on rail lines, six local elected officials are asking Gov. Martin O'Malley to improve service for commuters.
The Baltimore Metropolitan Council, a board that includes County Executive John R. Leopold as well as top elected officials from Baltimore City and Carroll, Harford, Baltimore and Howard counties, sent a letter to the governor asking him to improve commuter rail lines."

This from the Washington Post June 21:

BRAC Planning Brings Jurisdictions Together

"The Pentagon's base realignment plan will launch what has been called the single largest job expansion in Maryland since World War II and will fuel a building boom needed to expand schools, modernize roads and develop housing to accommodate up to 60,000 new workers.

Yet, counties and cities aren't fighting over the spoils, at least for now, but rather are working together in unusual fashion to ensure the region as a whole is prepared for the growth caused by the Base Realignment and Closure plan, known as BRAC.

Just as surprising, the state is abandoning the common practice of waiting for local jurisdictions to go to Annapolis to argue for their share of the pie. When a new BRAC subcabinet created by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) met Friday for the second time, it convened 60 miles from the capital, at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St.Mary's County. The next meeting will be in Frederick, with future stops likely in Montgomery, Howard and Harford counties."

This from the Baltimore Sun June 15:

Senate panel approves BRAC funding

A Senate panel approved $984.2 million yesterday for military construction in Maryland, including $719.7 million to accommodate the base realignment that is expected to bring tens of thousands of jobs to the state.

The $109.2 billion military construction and veterans affairs bill that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee includes includes $287.1 million for Aberdeen Proving Ground, $164 million for Fort Meade and $214.8 million for the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.

The proposal now heads to the full Senate, with a vote expected this summer.

The figures were announced by the office of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a member of the Appropriations Committee. The Maryland Democrat was not available for comment, a spokeswoman said.

Expansion at Aberdeen in Harford County, Fort Meade in Anne Arundel and other military installations is expected to bring 40,000 to 60,000 new jobs to the state over the next five years.

The military construction bill does not include money to help local communities expand roads, schools and sewer systems to accommodate the expansion. Mikulski's spokeswoman said the senator would seek federal funding for those services in an upcoming transportation spending bill."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Local group acquires unbuilt portion of the Greenway Farm development at foreclosure auction

A story in yesterday's Baltimore Sun reported that a group of local investors, which previously owned the 85 acres next to the Bulle Rock golf course, outbid at least one other party to regain possession of the land at the foreclosure auction held Wednesday.

According to the story:

"The group's $21 million bid was only three-quarters of the debt, which totaled about $28 million."

The group says they plan to move ahead with a housing development planned for the land, which is close to the Aberdeen Proving Ground. APG is expected to get an influx of more than 8,000 jobs in the next few years due to BRAC. Despite the expected increase in demand for housing BRAC is expected to bring, the nationwide housing slump convinced property's developer decided not to go ahead with its development plans.
"Acacia Capital Corp. bought the property to develop it for K. Hovnanian. After the booming market burst, the builder decided not to exercise its option to purchase the final two phases, approved for 414 homes. A. Hugo DeCesaris, a regional president for K. Hovnanian, said in a statement in April that both his company and Acacia believe the land is now worth less than the price originally agreed upon, but the lenders 'were unwilling to resolve the matter short of foreclosure.'"

The new owners are well-known locally. The group includes:

"Ronald W. Benfield, who runs a real estate appraisal company; Charles Benfield, founder of Benfield Electric, an electrical contracting firm; and Chris Michel, a land developer."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Letter to Editor seeks state's assistance to help Harford County pay for BRAC

A letter to the editor printed in Sunday's Harford County section of the Baltimore Sun includes a plea to the state to help Harford County deal with the influx BRAC will bring in two specific ways. The letter writer, Morita C. Bruce of Fallston, says the state is denying Harford County the tools it needs to handle the infrastructure costs incurred when trying to provide for thousands of newcomers.

The letter states:

"I'm asking you to please do two things to help Harford pay for BRAC: support enabling legislation for a transfer tax on the sale of existing homes, and help work out a deal with the Army that gives Harford the income equivalent to the taxes that would be paid if the EUL (Enhanced Use Lease) businesses were located on regular commercial property.

"So, to the members of the Harford delegation in Annapolis: Stand up for the taxpayers of the county. We need your help."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Baltimore Sun editorial today mulls 'The BRAC Effect' on higher education

The Baltimore Sun's editorial page today urges Central Maryland's community colleges to "be on their toes" so they can respond to the as-of-yet-undetermined needs of an as-of-yet-undetermined number of people who will be looking for training when BRAC moves them here.

"There could be a demand for midcareer credits and professional training from the contractors and military personnel themselves. Or it might be that their spouses, having relocated, will be looking for the sort of training -- in who knows what fields -- to get new jobs here. Or simply that their children, as they leave high school, will put new demands on the community colleges for undergraduate education."

The story details some things schools already have in the works:

"Harford is weighing a capital fundraising drive, in search of private donations. Harford and Cecil have entered into partnerships with Towson University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, respectively; this is a good start, but both have a long way to go. Harford and Arundel operate higher-education centers that make it possible to take graduate-level courses through four-year universities -- another good idea that needs to be pushed further. These partnerships make increased capacity possible. So do online courses, and the use of high school classrooms at night; that's not a perfect arrangement, but it works."

It ends by saying that if colleges can rise to the challenge ....

"...they'll have made a strong argument for more state financial support in the years ahead."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Aberdeen Mayor tells WJZ he carries a gun, but is upbeat about growth BRAC will bring

WJZ.com yesterday posted a report on Aberdeen's preparations for BRAC. In the short video (click here to see it) Aberdeen Mayor Fred Simmons tells WJZ that he carries a gun when he walks the area's toughest neighborhoods. But for the most part, the report was upbeat, discussing how officials recently burned down three drug houses while church choirs sang in the background and how area businesses are looking forward to the increased business BRAC will bring.

The Harford Democratic Politics blog had some thoughts to share on Aberdeen's gun-toting mayor. Check it out here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Maryland BRAC subcabinet holds 1st meeting, plans 10 more by Dec. 1

Tonight the Baltimore Sun posted a story on its website detailing the first meeting of the state's Base Realignment and Closure Subcabinet held today. Among the story's highlights:

  • Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is leading the state's base-realignment planning, announced that "Asuntha Chiang-Smith, a former head of the state's Office of Military and Federal Affairs, had been hired to coordinate the work of the subcabinet, which includes the heads of eight Cabinet departments and the state superintendent of schools. Chiang-Smith, who will be paid $109,799, also had worked as an aide to former Gov. Parris N. Glendening and to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski."

  • The subcabinet has a six-month deadline to come up with a plan to accommodate an expected influx of from 45,000 to 60,000 defense-related jobs in the state. Brown said:
    "'We have our work cut out for us'in preparing for the growth, including building schools, expanding transit and locating water to accommodate the new workers and their families."
  • The plan is due Dec. 1 to Gov. Martin O'Malley. Before that time it's expected that the subcabinet will have 10 meetings some of which will be held in the communities expecting to see the bulk of new residents.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Small businesses look to capitalize on BRAC

The Baltimore Sun covered the recent "BRAC and Your Bottom Line" event for business owners last week and found everyone from interior designers to electronics distributors looking to get the word out about themselves.

According to the story:

"Tom McCuin, business development manager with Comm Wireless, a mobile radio service company, wanted to know whom to see at APG.

"We want to market to the new tenants and contractors," he said. "I know there is business, and I am finding helpful contacts here." Similar conferences, funded by the state's small-business network, are scheduled in the next few weeks in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George's County."

More events are scheduled the story said:

"BRAC and Your Bottom Line" continues from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 7 at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Medicine Health Sciences Facility I, 685 W. Baltimore St.; from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. June 21 at the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson and June 26 in Bowie (time and location to be determined). Registration is required. Information: 301-403-8300, Ext. 34, or www.mdsbdc.umd.edu.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Calfornia firm gets $10 million BRAC contract

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., a Pasadena, Calif. firm, will be helping the Baltimore area prepare for the BRAC influx, according to a recent story in the Baltimore Business Journal. The May 1 story said:

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a five-year contract to a Pasadena, Calif., firm to help Army bases along the East Coast, including Maryland, prepare for a military realignment.

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. (NYSE: JEC) said Tuesday it has been awarded a contract of up to $10 million from the Army Corps' Baltimore district to provide planning, architecture and engineering services for the federal Base Realignment and Closure efforts."

Fort Meade schools more concerned than Harford's about having room for new BRAC students, says Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore Sun story published yesterday indicates that schools on the Army base in Fort Meade are concerned they won't have the money to make more room to accommodate the 1,700 new students they anticipate BRAC will bring. An estimated 45,000 BRAC workers are expected to settle in Maryland by the 2011 deadline for the BRAC move. Schools on the Army base in Fort Meade are expected to see a heavy influx, the story says.

"Many children of military families will attend schools on the post, since these middle-class households are more likely to live there than in more upscale neighborhoods elsewhere in the region."

The story goes on to say that school districts in other counties are better able to handle their expected population increases, quoting district spokespeople:

"Baltimore County considers itself "uniquely positioned" to handle the influx, said Donald I. Mohler, a county spokesman."

"Howard County public schools Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin said that his school system is prepared for any influx that BRAC might cause."

With regard to Harford County schools, the story says:

"As home to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Harford County is in a more precarious position. Harford is expected to absorb about 60 percent of the new families coming to APG.

"Still, Harford officials are planning expansions, and in some cases new buildings, for nearly all the schools closest to the installation."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bainbridge mixed-use development in Port Deposit seen as model for BRAC developments

Delaware's The News Journal newspaper is back on the BRAC case again with a Friday story detailing new development planned on the site of the old Bainbridge naval base in Port Deposit, Cecil County.

From the story:

"As part of a public-private partnership, two Maryland developers plan to create a massive mixed-use community. Construction is expected to begin soon on the first of 1,250 homes that will sprawl across the former base's 1,200 acres.

Located on high ground above the town of Port Deposit, about 35 miles southwest of Wilmington, Bainbridge overlooks the Susquehanna River."

The story says the Bainbridge Development Corp. has owned the property since 1999.

"With 3 million square feet in commercial and office space, Bainbridge is expected to support up to 5,000 jobs and provide Cecil County $22 million in annual tax revenue. One pharmaceutical company based in Newark, AccelaPure, has signed a 10-year lease for a 40,000-square-foot headquarters at Bainbridge.

The development -- to cost an estimated $1 billion -- is being lauded by officials across the state as a model for BRAC developments. Plans call for a massive public trail system for hiking and biking, a fitness center with a pool and a community center."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BRAC + traffic = restructuring Routes 24, 22 and 40. Carpool anyone?

According to a story in this today's Aegis, it appears BRAC will require some serious road improvements to Routes 24, 22 and 40. The story said that at a Tuesday meeting of the Harford County Transportation Management Association, the county's land use and transportation chief Janet Gleisner

"emphasized the importance of considering carpooling or other transit methods while the county restructures its major roads ..."

Another meeting is scheduled in late June to discuss the work to be done on I-95, the story said.

If all these roads are getting overhauled at the same time, lets hope they get that hovercraft up and running so we can all get where we're going.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The News Journal tackles the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor

The News Journal in Delaware has another good BRAC story today. This morning, reporter Kristin Harty covers the issues of BRAC-related development on Route 40. Apparently we have renamed this stretch of truck stops and cheap motels (along with I-95 running parallel) the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor. In this story and in the one she wrote for Sunday's paper, Harty does a nice job of adding a lot of color and description to issues that have up to now be written about from the rather dry perspective you get from covering official meetings of newly formed groups with long names.

Check it out here.

Here's a link to Sunday's story.

Here's a link to a Business section story on BRAC contractors who might look for office space in Delaware.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Great BRAC story in Delaware's The News Journal today

Delaware's The News Journal ran a great story on BRAC's expected impact in Cecil County this morning. Reporter Kristin Harty found someone who already moved to Elkton from Fort Monmouth, N.J. and interviewed him about his regional vice president job at MITRE, a technology research firm soon to open an office at the Water's Edge Corporate Campus in Belcamp. While much of the specifics about what BRAC will bring remain a murky mystery, this story does a great job of putting what we do know into perspective. And, more importantly, it's an easy read.

Check it out here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Could BRAC boost our gas tax?

I just came across this Gazette.net story on Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's talk to the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce where he suggested that an increased gas tax would be a more reliable way to raise the money needed for BRAC-related road improvements.

"So far, the state has funded about $6 billion in transportation improvement projects related to the Base Realignment and Closure changes, but some $16 billion worth remains, Brown said during a Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

"With the state also facing a structural budget deficit of more than $1 billion and other needs such as for health care, officials are looking for fresh ways to cut costs and raise revenue, said Brown, who leads a BRAC state sub-Cabinet committee formed earlier this year."

The story went on to say:

"A higher gasoline tax would be a more reliable revenue source than increasing the corporate income tax due to fluctuations when the economy slows, said Brown, a former delegate from Prince George’s County."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Greenway Farm foreclosure rescheduled for June 13

This item ran in today's Baltimore Sun:

"Originally scheduled for this morning, the Greenway Farm auction has been
delayed until June 13. It is to be held at Beechtree Golf Club in Aberdeen.

The auction does not include the first phase of the development, which
is under construction by national builder K. Hovnanian Homes. Auctioneer A.J.
Billig & Co. says the rest of Greenway Farm -- about 85 acres, approved for
414 homes -- is up for grabs. The land is next to Bulle Rock golf course in
Havre de Grace."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

York County, Pa. has joined the BRAC attack planners

A story in today's York Dispatch newspaper says that officials in this southeastern Pennsylvania County have joined the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor Consortium:

"The impact of the move, a military base realignment, is expected to diffuse into York County -- in particular the southeastern portion -- as people move here and work at and around Aberdeen, said Felicia Dell, executive director of the York County Planning Commission.

County commissioners last week formally agreed to join the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor Consortium, a partnership of governments working together to prepare for the effect of the jobs."

Monday, May 14, 2007

BRAC business talk scheduled May 22 at Harford Community College

This brief item ran in today's Baltimore Sun:

"Harford Community College's Small Business Development Center will hold a conference, "BRAC and Your Bottom Line," at 3:30 p.m. May 22 at the Chesapeake Center in Bel Air.

The conference will feature information on the military base realignment and closure process, known as BRAC, and its impact on the county's small businesses.

The conference will begin with a "meet and greet" with APG-related federal agencies and contractors. From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the program will include dinner, an interactive panel discussion, and sessions on security clearance requirements, navigating APG and reaching the new residential market.

A $20 fee to cover dinner and materials will be charged. A registration form is available at www.harford.edu/sbdc.

Information: sbdc@harford.edu or 410-836-4237, ext. 1."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

BRAC numbers discussed during panel; funding still troublesome

A BRAC timeline was discussed by Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and other officials on a panel organized by The Associated Press for a Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association conference Friday. According to a story on the panel that appeared in the Army Times:

"'New employees will start showing up noticeably in 2009, with a 'big spike' arriving in 2010 and 2011, said George Mercer, a spokesman for the proving ground in Harford County. About 8,200 direct jobs are projected to come to the facility.

“'You will see some before that and it’ll start increasing in 2009, but 2010-2011 is when you’re going to see a lot of new people,' Mercer said."

The story also said:

"The estimated number of people who will be coming remains in flux. Overall, Brown said between 14,000 and 16,000 direct jobs are expected to be coming to Maryland. The numbers rise to between 45,000 and 60,000, when indirect jobs, including mostly contractors, are added into the mix."

But, the story said, for all the changes that will be required in terms of transportation, work force training, increasing mass transit capabilities, making affordable housing available and finding water sources, funding is still in question.

"In the state’s six-year transportation planning cycle, 54 BRAC-specific projects have been mentioned, with costs amounting to an estimated $16.2 billion. Funding for only about $6 billion has been identified, Brown said."

According to the story, officials said they expect the increase in property and income taxes new workers will bring will help pay for much of what will be needed.

Of course, (my thought here) following that logic, we'll have to wait for these folks to buy houses in order to pay for our roads and schools to absorb them -- and us.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Will BRAC transform Route 40?

A story in yesterday's Baltimore Sun says BRAC could alter the streetscape along Route 40 in Harford and Cecil counties. It sounds like we could lose the whole tired truck-stop vibe along much of that strip. But officials say to make improvements to the route they'll need zoning concessions to put housing and offices in areas that have environmental and water issues.

According to the story:

"Developers are asking officials for zoning flexibility as they strive to meet the demands for housing and offices that will accompany the nationwide military base realignment, known as BRAC.

"'Most of what we have to develop has something on the site to demolish or an environmental issue or water problems,' said Clark Turner, a prominent developer, in a speech at a BRAC event last week. "We need flexibility in zoning [as an incentive]. We need to work together because this is Smart Growth in the greatest sense of the word.'"

Officials at the BRAC event last Wednesday endorsed the creation of the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor along U.S. 40, the story said.

"It will offer exciting mixed-use opportunities for retail and commercial," said Chris Moyer, senior development officer with Baltimore Development Corp.
Officials also expect the folks moving to Harford and Cecil counties as a result of BRAC, will boost the counties' tax base.

"Most of the new employees, whose average annual income will be $86,000, are expected to relocate in Harford and Cecil counties. Each will pay as much as $12,000 annually in income and property taxes - revenue that could add $250 million a year to the coffers of the two counties, Turner said."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

BRAC's promise to attract thousands to Harford County wasn't enough to keep one national developer in the game at Bulle Rock

It seems the possibility of 30,000 people moving to Harford County as a result of BRAC's moving jobs from Fort Monmouth, N.J. to Aberdeen Proving Ground wasn't enough to convince home builder K. Hovnanian Homes to hold onto its plans to put 690 homes on a parcel of land at Bulle Rock, according to a story in today's Baltimore Sun.

The first phase of the development is already under construction, the story said, and will be built. However, about 85 acres - approved for 414 homes - is to be auctioned May 16 at the golf course clubhouse. The story said the debt on the land, which Acacia Capital Corp. bought to develop for K. Hovnanian Homes, is about $28 million.

". . . the builder said yesterday that it had changed its plans because the
group of local investors that financed the deal - the original owners - wanted
more for the land than K. Hovnanian or the developer thought it was worth."

According to the story, a large portion of the new home project:

". . . is scheduled for foreclosure auction next month, an apparent victim
of the sharp slowdown in the housing market that has hurt builders across the
country. Lenders filed to foreclose on the undeveloped part of the upscale Greenway Farm, next to Bulle Rock golf
course in Havre de Grace, after its
owner fell into default."

"It's part of a wave of foreclosures that has hit developers as well as
homeowners, particularly in the suburbs and exurbs."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Schools, taxes are topics at Monday's BRAC Town Hall meeting

Concerns about BRAC related tax increases and whether county schools can handle all the students BRAC might bring were two of the topics discussed at Monday's BRAC Town Hall meeting at the Bel Air High School auditorium, according to a story in Wednesday's Aegis. The story said Harford County Executive David Craig said that a new middle school is to be built in the Emmorton area when the population of the new combined Patterson Mill Middle/High School -- scheduled to open this fall -- eventually expands to the point where the middle and high schools need to be separated each into their own buildings. The story says he mentioned that a site is being scouted for new elementary school in the Bel Air area. (I'm guessing he means the Vale Road Elementary School which was slated to go in on Vale Road just west of Red Pump Road but has been held up by sewage capacity issues.) And the story said he said three other new elementary schools are "in the pipeline to help support county growth."

With regard to residents' questions about possible tax increases releated to BRAC, the Aegis story said:

"Craig assured them increased operating expenses would likely be offeset by the new taxpayers moving into the county for BRAC-related jobs."

The story said Craig referred people to the www.marylandready.com website for more information and said that more refined information would be available in August.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wondering how to get a BRAC job?

From everything I've read it looks as though the Army is desperately seeking 8,200 workers to staff the jobs moving from Fort Monmouth to APG in the next few years. However, it's not particularly easy to find job listings for these and the additional approximately 10,000 contractor positions that would support them. But I just noticed a story that ran recently in The News Journal in Delaware that quoted Harford County's BRAC manager Karen Emery as saying that a BRAC jobs database of sorts is in the works. According to the story:

"Maryland economic development officials are working on an Internet 'employment portal' that will list all BRAC job opportunities at www.marylandready.com, Emery said. No launch date has been set.

"'We're developing a prototype as we speak,' Emery said."

I noticed the Maryland Ready site does have already available a "BRAC Barometer." This feature offers an article for the month of April on our area's "labor shed." According to the article, those of us in the "shed" are rather smart. (More than half of us they surveyed had a bachelor's degree or higher.) We make a decent living. (The survey showed our average salary came in just under $60K.) The "shed" is a bit lacking in folks with expertise in engineering and logistics. But we have plenty of people with business experience.

BRAC Town Hall meeting

The big BRAC meeting scheduled for tonight at the Bel Air High School auditorium was to be the first in a series to be sponsored by the Harford County Office of Economic Development. A story in last week's Aegis highlighted some of the points that were likely to be covered at the meeting. They included:

  • Fort Monmouth officials are working with Baltimore area colleges to recruit local graduates who would either start working at APG this summer or who would move to Fort Monmouth to start work there and later move to APG when their jobs relocate. The story said the military needs to hire 500 workers in these fields: electrical and computer engineers, computer scientists and business managers.

  • APG is expecting a net gain of 8,200 jobs on post with an additional 7,500 to 10,000 jobs off post. Total new jobs in Harford County: 15,700 to 18,200.

  • Most jobs will come in 2011-2012.

  • Average annual salary for on-post jobs: $86,765. Total on-post payroll: $711,473,000

  • Average annual salary for off-post jobs: $83,100. Total project annual salary: $831 million

  • New homes expected: 1,710 to be built in Harford County each year between 2007 and 2015
  • Average new home cost as of 2007: $288,956
  • New property tax revenue to be generated as of 2007: $5,347,170

  • Average new home cost as of 2015: $410,925
  • New property tax revenue generated as of 2015: $7,602,060

  • Total new homes expected in that span: 15,390
  • Total new property tax revenues: $57,700,530

  • Harford County is also expected to see more commercial building. According to the Aegis story, the county has 5.7 million square feet available at 11 sites: Forest Hill business parks, Park Centre at Plum Tree, Box Hill Corporate Center, Abingdon Woods, Emmorton Business Park, Carter-Mills property at the Route 543 and I-95 interchange, Water's Edge Corporate Campus, the Close property, Hickory Ridge and Hardee's business parks, Grace Harbor Office Park and Hillside Office Park in Havre de Grace.

Monday, April 09, 2007

BRAC Community Town Hall Meeting scheduled April 16

I've seen this notice of a BRAC town hall meeting in the local paper and at the APG Maryland at the Ready website:

Community Town Hall Meeting
at Bel Air High School Auditorium, April 16, 2007, 7-9 PM. Free and open to the public. For ADA assistance, contact Sharon Grzanka at scgrzanka@harfordcountymd.gov or 410-638-3391 one week prior to the event.

Attention Contractors:
C4ISR Pre-Solicitation Notice

Download the Notice

I'm still looking for more information on what might be on the agenda and who might be speaking. I'll post if I find out more.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Defense Department buys Harford County farmland to protect Army test area and Deer Creek

The Washington Post reports today that the Defense Department is

"...spending $1.4 million to protect 163.5 acres of farmland in northeastern Maryland from new-home construction, preserving a scenic habitat so that tanks and Humvees can keep roaring around the Army's off-road test course nearby."

According to the story:

"By using the farmland as a buffer zone, the Army will not have to worry about urban encroachment disrupting training and testing that has gone on at the Army's Churchville Test Area, a part of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, for 65 years.

The Army will celebrate the creation of the buffer zone at a ceremony Wednesday with its partners -- the Harford County government, the Harford Land Trust and the Hopkins family, which has raised crops, cattle and horses on its farm since 1955."

The story says the plan has environmental benefits as well:

"Army officials were concerned that if residential development took place, training would be restricted to a smaller area inside the Churchville site. Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environment, safety and occupational health, said that could "cause us not to be able to do the testing that we need to do as close to the combat conditions as we would like to shake out those vehicles and weapons systems."

The conservation easement will protect Deer Creek, which separates the farm from the testing grounds and is part of a watershed that provides drinking water for nearby northeastern Maryland communities that are growing in population."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Looks like BRAC could bring good jobs for college graduates willing to move

The BRAC supplement that came in today's Aegis newspaper included a story that indicated BRAC could bring a lot of jobs for young people just out of college. In the story, Harford County's BRAC manager Karen Emery was quoted as saying:

"They're looking for college graduates with 3.0 or higher GPAs, where they would work in New Jersey for the first year or so until the mission moves to Maryland."

Aberdeen Proving Ground is expected to get 8,200 new positions as a result of BRAC. The majority of those jobs will be at the U.S. Army's Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command in Fort Monmouth, N.J. Jobs at this command are expected to be available between 2009 and 2010. Officials say it's possible that a majority of those people currently holding those jobs will decide not to move to Maryland (60 percent are eligible to retire), leaving openings for electronics engineers, management and program analysts, inventory managers, security specialists, computer engineers and logistics managers.

The story says that workers who are willing to work at the location in Fort Monmouth for awhile could possibly get their salary raised to the $80,000 level by the time they move the unit down to APG. The story says the contact person for these jobs is Kristine Ryskamp at Fort Monmouth 732-532-8963 or Kristine.Ryskamp@us.army.mil.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

BRAC jobs are on the way, but we're all going to have to get a lot smarter

A story in today's Baltimore Examiner newspaper says that a good portion of the jobs that are coming to Aberdeen Proving Ground are going to require workers who have more than a bachelor's degree.

"Nearly 2,200 positions coming to Aberdeen from Fort Monmouth, N.J., require either a doctoral degree or several years of higher education beyond a bachelor’s."

Unfortunately the colleges within fewer than 30 miles of APG, don't offer much in the way of much higher education. The story says Harford and Cecil community colleges are working with Towson State and the University of Maryland to come up with ways that students up here won't have to travel too far to get their degrees.

"Harford Community College has started 22 “two plus two” transfer programs that allow students to combine two years at Harford with two years at Towson, said Vice President for Instruction Luba Chliwniak, and negotiations are in the works for another 10 to 12.

"Towson University also is offering undergraduate courses on-campus at Harford and at the Higher Education and Technology Center in Aberdeen, and the college is considering offering more Towson undergraduate programs when 100 acres of additional campus land is developed, Chliwniak said."

Otherwise, these new students are going to have to compete with people like my dear cousin who heads from her Forest Hill home to Towson hours before her first class to make sure she'll be able to score a parking space in enough time to make it to her classes start.

It seems the Harford Community College president James F. LaCalle has been giving this all some thought recently. He mentions BRAC several times in his Major Initiatives for 2007 report found on the school's website.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Some clues for BRAC news

The whole BRAC issue of who's coming to APG from Fort Monmouth, NJ, when they'll arrive and where they'll live is murky at best. But I found a source of information tidbits on a website published for those who work at Fort Monmouth. It's called The Monmouth Message and it looks like it gets posted each Friday. A series of links to articles shows up on the website each week. Not all of them are relevant to the BRAC move. But this one published on Feb. 9, provided some insights. The article titled "Community gets closure update" said that a recent survey of Fort Monmouth workers indicated that 485 of their spouses would be looking for work when they make the move to APG or Fort Belvoir, Va. The article said:

"It’s estimated that about 2.600 jobs will open by the time this fort closes and, hopefully, some spouses will fill some of those positions."

The article also said:

"Also in the works is a plan for job swapping for employees whose jobs are not transferring but who would like to transfer to APG."

Construction of new facilities at APG for the incoming workers was also discussed in the article. It said the Army Corps of Engineers had hired the firm of
Ewing Cole as the architect and engineering firm for the project. And it said that a date of Sept. 30 had been set for the first construction project award to be made.

The article discussed an advance team made up of interns hired in Maryland to start working with volunteers from Fort Monmouth out of trailers and leased space at APG until the new facilities were ready. Although the article added that no money had been made available for the concept.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Harford County to get 12,712 BRAC-related jobs

A Washington Post story on Friday gave a good breakdown of the BRAC jobs that are expected to come to the region in the next few years:

Total: 45,232

Anne Arundel: 10,049

Baltimore: 3,145

Baltimore County: 3,898

Cecil: 2,602

Harford: 12,712

Howard: 2,259

Montgomery: 4,236

Prince George's: 3,463

Rest of Maryland: 2,868

SOURCE: Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development

(Click this link to read the study on the department's webpage.)

The study, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, estimates the job growth will create a demand for 25,000 new homes in Maryland, and warns of strains on roads and schools.

"[Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown ] said state officials hope to develop an "action-oriented strategic plan" to deal with BRAC by mid-fall. Meanwhile, county executives representing affected areas are working to create a priority list to try to get key funding for projects. The first phase of the transfer of workers is set to begin by 2009."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Some useful BRAC stats from a recent Sun story

Some useful BRAC stats from a recent Baltimore Sun story on road projects needed to relieve the expect BRAC traffic onslaught:

"APG, which occupies more than 73,000 acres along the Chesapeake Bay in eastern Harford County, will gain 8,200 jobs on the post and 10,000 contractor jobs off the installation, James C. Richardson, Harford's economic development director said. It is expected to become a communications hub, and its annual budget for research and development will go from $3.5 billion to more than $10 billion, he said About 60 percent of the new positions are expected to be filled by local residents because of retirements and the reluctance of many current employees at Fort Monmouth, N.J., to move with their jobs to Maryland, officials said. About 65 percent of the proving ground workers live in Harford now and nearly 13 percent in Cecil County. "

The story also says:

"To handle the accompanying rise in traffic, the county will need major improvements along the U.S. 40 and Interstate 95 corridors; an extension of Route 715 from the post to I-95; and upgrades of Routes 7 and 755 in Edgewood, and Routes 159 and 22 in Aberdeen."

It quotes Del. Barry Glassman, chairman of Harford's legislative delegation, as saying:

"Because of the tight budget, we may have to do interim measures, such as added lanes, before we can do the larger projects."

Sounds to me like traffic is going to be tied up for years to come.

Maryland state and Harford County's BRAC planning documents now available online

Both the state's and Harford County's BRAC plans are now available online.

Here's a link to the state's BRAC plan. It's a doozy to download. The 334-page document took about 10 minutes to load with my broadband connection.

Here's a link to Harford County's
BPAC plan. That stands for BRAC Planning Advisory Commission Action Plan. It's a mere 28 pages.

I've been reading the two of them to try to determine if the county's plan seems to address the land use, traffic, school and water supply issues that are in the state's version. I'm still plugging along.

So far, what makes me the most nervous is the number of rather essential items in the county's plan that appear to be scheduled to be finished by 2015. That's four years after all the BRAC jobs planned for Aberdeen Proving Ground are scheduled to be in place.

Here are just a few of those items that aren't scheduled to be completed until 2015:

Land Use

  • Regional growth Projections - Quality of life /evaluation of community / human service needs
  • Study fiscal impact of new development and annexation on municipal governments.
  • Update vacant land inventories

  • Gain State recognition and funding of all identified projects and linkages
  • Siting of multi-modal site in coordination with APG and City of Aberdeen to ease congestion at MD 715 gate due to BRAC, Perryman access and GATE project to include parking and bus service (Ok, I don't exactly know what "multi-modal site coordination" means, but that whole easing congestion thing sounds like it's coming a little late.)
  • Identify funding sources available for these opportunities, such as Tax Increment financing (TIF) or private development (Did they say TAXES?)

  • Seek additional state funding for school construction and modernization

Public Safety
  • Establish adequate staffing plan to service the anticipated increase in population.

The report prefaces all this with the statement:
"The broad scope of the plan dictates that the status of actions addressed in it will be constantly changing, and for at least the near term the plan should be reviewed for update quarterly."

That leaves us four quarters before the first BRACers are expected to start arriving in 2008. Hope they pick up the planning pace.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Harford County officials say they have a BRAC action plan

We have a plan, say Harford County officials charged with preparing for an influx of thousands of new county residents expected to start moving here next year due to the military's Base Realignment and Closure Plan, in a story in today's Baltimore Sun. The plan was developed during the past year using a $1.7 million federal grant. The Sun story said the plan now goes to County Executive David R. Craig. The story says the plan will get a "public airing" three months from now at town hall meeting April 18. Until then, I guess we can be rest-assured that this plan addresses the scary scenarios detailed in the state planning department's cautionary report on BRAC revealed in a Sun story last Saturday which warned that our land, water, road and school resources would be strained by the sudden influx of new residents. The Sun story says the county's plan does not provide any cost estimates for the projects it recommends. It says county officials are expected to soon give the state a list of transportation project they'd like to get state and federal money for.

"The snowball's rolling downhill, and we're going to continue to keep pace," said J. Thomas Sadowski, chairman of the county's base realignment planning advisory commission.

I hope the county gives us a way to get a easier peek at the details of this plan before April. You know how folks around here generally react to a threat of snow. It's not exactly comforting.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Scary BRAC story in Saturday's Baltimore Sun

Strained water supplies, snarled traffic, housing sprawl and a plague of locusts -- this is what BRAC will bring according to a report released by state planners last week and detailed in a Baltimore Sun story Saturday. Ok. I'm kidding about the locusts. But it sounds a bit like Armageddon, nonetheless. And to think, we were so delighted not so long ago when the military announced our bases would be staying open and drawing thousands of new jobs to the area. Now, the trouble is, where are we going to put all these folks? According to a little chart that ran with the front page story, Harford County will be getting an additional 6,533 households as a result of BRAC -- more than any other Maryland county. According to the Sun story:

"The price tag to taxpayers is likely to run into billions of dollars."

But for Harford County, the story gets even more bleak:

"Families moving to Harford to take base-related jobs could buy up more than two-thirds of the high-quality housing expected to be built or for sale in the county's designated growth area, the plan cautions. But the county's plans to concentrate those new households could be foiled by lack of infrastructure, the report cautions.

"Harford and its municipalities face water-supply limits or shortages, the report says. Bel Air's water capacity is inadequate, planners say, and they warn that Aberdeen's plans to solve its looming supply crunch by desalinating Chesapeake Bay water might not get approved and completed before new workers and their families start arriving.

"The report says there is "an increased urgency for plans and actions now" to finance and build new water-supply and sewage treatment capacity, highway and transit improvements and classroom space."
The story says that Harford County Executive David R. Craig plans to unveil an "action plan" for coping with base-related growth Monday. I'll keep an eye out for that. But in the meantime, it has me thinking a plague of locusts would be the least of our problems.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What will BRAC bring? Traffic, for sure.

A story in today's Baltimore Sun indicates there is a lot of hand-wringing over BRAC even at the highest levels of state government. And yet, after reading the story it appears no one really has a good handle on what kinds of challenges it will bring or a concrete plan on how to get a handle on them. However, one thing seems perfectly clear. BRAC is going to bring a whole lot more traffic. And, the congestion will likely arrive before the solution.

From The Sun story:

"Among the broader initiatives being promoted by Maryland counties is a mechanism to allow the legislature to rush projects deemed crucial, such as roads.

'Getting approval for transportation projects can be a six-year process, so we need the option of fast-tracking to help those come on board as quickly as possible,' said Roxanne Lynch, Harford County's director of government and community relations."
And from later in the story:

"'The jury's still out on whether this is going to be a net gain for the state,' said Dru Schmidt-Perkins, executive director of 1000 Friends of Maryland. 'We can't take the 60,000 or so people and sprawl them all over the place. We don't have the roads, we don't have the schools, we don't have the water. We need to do it right so we don't have a nightmare.'

"Dan Pontious, regional policy director for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association, said local officials need the state's help in preparing for BRAC-related growth, especially in dealing with the increased traffic it will generate.

"'As our highways become more clogged, people are going to be looking for other ways to get to work,' Pontious said. The state must invest in enhancing MARC commuter rail lines, he said, which can transport more workers to Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade while serving the needs of other Maryland commuters."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Greater Baltimore Committee makes BRAC a priority

The Greater Baltimore Committee announced in a press release today that it is making BRAC issues a priority for 2007:

"Setting up streamlined budgeting and planning processes to address looming growth in central Maryland related to federal base realignment and closure (BRAC) are among the Greater Baltimore Committee's top priorities for the 2007 General Assembly session."

"To prepare for BRAC growth, the GBC is urging that the state budget include a line item for BRAC-related projects and that state agencies implement an expedited planning and approval process for such projects. The GBC also proposes updating and funding the state's Consolidated Transportation Plan to "fully integrate the road and transit projects that are needed for BRAC," according to a priorities list issued today by the GBC."

The Greater Baltimore Committee is a group of business and civic leaders who work to help shape policy in the region.

Anticipated BRAC traffic woes came up today as well in the local Aegis BRAC "report." The Aegis asked a collection of local folks whether they knew what BRAC was. County Executive David Craig had a good handle on it. Local residents, not so much. What was a bit enlightening was the across-the-board concern people are expressing about traffic issues. In just a few years, tens of thousands of workers are going to be hitting the highways on their way to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade and all the other contracting and other businesses that will support these bases. While we may not have hard numbers on which to base housing needs or school needs we can bet that we're all likely to be tied up in traffic.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Intriguing story on BRAC hires in today's Baltimore Sun

We've all heard that plenty of workers at the Fort Monmouth, N.J. military base don't want to come to Maryland when it's time to make the big BRAC move. But a story in today's Baltimore Sun reports those jobs won't go away. Instead, the Army is busy in Fort Monmouth hiring workers who will move to Aberdeen Proving Ground when the time comes. According to the story:

"A recent military survey estimating that only a small fraction of the workers at Fort Monmouth plan to follow their jobs to Aberdeen has sparked a hiring spree by the Army aimed at putting about 2,600 workers in place at the New Jersey base long before it moves to Maryland.

Those employees would 'backfill' projected losses, military officials said. The new hires - including many Marylanders - sign on with the understanding that they will start in New Jersey and move to Maryland with the base's operations.

'We are aggressively hiring from the Maryland area now,' said Sue Nappi, assistant deputy chief of staff for operations and plans at Fort Monmouth."

The story says that Aberdeen is expecting an increase of 8,200 workers at its base, with double that number to come in the form of contracting and other jobs that support the base. But they're still crunching the numbers:

"Harford is planning to award a contract for further study of the realignment's impact within the next few months and will incorporate the Army's survey into those statistics, said James C. Richardson, the county's economic development director."

BRAC cited as one reason to boost school district's public information staffing

BRAC wasn't a good enough reason for state officials to give Harford Public Schools all the money it wanted to build more schools for the expected onslaught of BRAC students. However, a story in Friday's Aegis indicates it was a decent reason for the Harford County Board of Education to create a new position: public information clerk for the Office of Information and Publications. The Aegis quoted school board president Mark Wolkow saying:

"There's not a good understanding of what goes on inside the school system."

The story stated that the Office of Information and Publications produces the Harford County Public Schools monthly newspaper and newsletters.

According to the story, Director of Public Information Don Morrison, answered a board member's question about whether the new position might be premature saying:

"It's just become really problematic that we maintain all the things we do, even in the present scope, without BRAC."

The district's $420 million 2008 budget request includes 245 new positions, according to the story.