Helping to own the night

Tech park: Former Navy site in Annapolis could play increasing role in nation's defense.

October 18, 2001

THERE'S A connection between the military campaign in Afghanistan and the David Taylor Research Center in Annapolis.

The former naval center houses the Joint Spectrum Center, a Defense Department operation that helps the military manage the electromagnetic spectrum.

Joint Spectrum's work enables the U.S. military to "own the night" in warfare, as fighting forces engage unseen enemies and guide smart weapons.

David Taylor is important for that alone. But it could become an even more significant part of the nation's defense -- and the region's economy -- when the 46.5-acre site is finally privatized and developed into an industrial park.

The park, on the Severn River's east bank, would lure defense contractors.

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens projects that 60 percent to 75 percent of David Taylor's tenants would be defense contractors, but negotiations with the Naval Academy, Navy and developer officials are going slower than expected. Of course, it's easy to understand that talks with military officials are difficult to schedule these days.

An Oct. 23 meeting between county and government officials should get things moving again.

But much has been accomplished over the past year. The state's Critical Area Commission has approved the development plan, and a crucial agreement over subdividing the site has been reached with the Navy.

Still, the site's neighbors are concerned about the proposed size of the development. Their concerns are real, but outweighed by the economic and military advantages a major technology research center would bring.

While much of the high-technology sector is struggling, the prospects for defense-oriented technology firms have become brighter. Today's military challenges require innovation.

The proposed David Taylor Research Center would help meet those challenges.

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