The greening of Fort Meade $44 million laboratory complex underscores changes at the base.

March 07, 1997

ALTHOUGH THE NEW $44 million Environmental Science Center laboratory complex at Fort George G. Meade will not be ready until late next year, area civic leaders have been given a preview of the future. They like it.

"It's an asset to the base and community," said Glenn Akers, president of the Greater Odenton Improvement Association, after he and other activists were briefed on the 140,000-square-foot complex last month. The location of this Environmental Protection Agency installation at Fort Meade underscores the changes taking place at the base in western Anne Arundel County now that it no longer is headquarters for the First U.S. Army.

More and more, the old base, first established in 1917 as a temporary Army training post, is beginning to look like a technology campus. On one side is the vast compound of the top-secret National Security Agency. Meanwhile, the actual base area is gradually being converted into specialized schools and research facilities.

This change is welcomed by many Odenton civic activists. They see the new science-oriented Fort Meade as a partner that can offer a variety of resources to the civilian community, including internships and seminars.

The Environmental Science Center is a case in point. Once completed, it will house not only the laboratories but an environmental library and offices for some 160 EPA workers who are now scattered at various locations nearby in Annapolis and Prince George's County.

The center will bring together the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances and the laboratory that supports EPA enforcement and monitoring for Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. They will be housed in a two-story building under construction on 18 acres at Route 175 and Mapes Road.

The project was nearly eliminated two years ago, when a House of Representatives subcommittee slashed its funding. The allocation was restored in a later budget compromise.

Among the laboratories' tasks will be the testing of air, soil and water samples. Area residents hope that they can enlist EPA's help in analyzing factors contributing to the ecosystem of the Little Patuxent River.

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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