Vote to enlarge 2 Army installations welcomed

July 01, 1991|By John Rivera and Richard Sia d

The decision by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission yesterday to add facilities to two Army installations was greeted as good news.

The panel approved a reorganization of Army laboratories that would close a facility in Woodbridge, Va., and relocate labs in Alexandria and Fort Belvoir, Va., and Waterford, Mass., to the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

In addition, the Army will establish the Combat Materiel Research Laboratory at Adelphi, which will centralize several laboratory functions now scattered at several bases.

"The base closure commission's recommendation to create a flagship Army laboratory facility at Adelphi and to substantially add to the important work being done at the Aberdeen Proving Ground is good news," Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes said in a statement. "The decision is a tribute to the important contribution to our national defense being made by the highly skilled scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff at these facilities."

But George J. Engleson, mayor of Aberdeen, greeted the news with muted enthusiasm.

"I'd like to tell you I'm excited that we're going to get a lot of jobs," he said, but with some cutbacks also planned at the Army facility, it remained to be seen how many jobs would be added to the area.

"If we're lucky, we might balance it out," he said.

The Army plan already has pitted lawmakers against each other. Immediately after the commission endorsement yesterday, Representative Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., issued a statement vowing to stop the lab realignment to keep an Army facility at Fort Monmouth in business. Under the plan, about 220 employees at Monmouth's Electronic Technology and Devices Laboratory would be reassigned to the Adelphi lab.

Ironically, Mr. Pallone and Representative Tom McMillen, D-Md.-4th, had been allied in early June in an effort to convince the commission to drop military laboratories from its deliberations. Both lawmakers have argued that the decisions should rest with a separate advisory commission on military research labs.

In another decision that affected bases in Maryland, the commission decided to scuttle earlier plans to relocate the Letterman Army Institute of Research, a medical research laboratory now at The Presidio in San Francisco to Fort Detrick, Md.

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