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.