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."