Fort Meade funding focus of panel

November 29, 2006|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,Sun reporter

Three local jurisdictions, led by Anne Arundel County, have agreed to establish a regional task force to help secure funding to prepare for a huge military expansion at Fort Meade.

As part of an announcement Monday in Odenton, County Executive Janet S. Owens said Anne Arundel officials have submitted a preliminary request for at least $1 million in federal funding for planning studies and to hire administrative staff to prepare for the growth.

The establishment of the regional Grant Advisory Task Force is crucial to netting more federal money to prepare for a wave of 20,000 defense workers who will descend on Fort Meade over the next five years.

The five-member panel - which will include the executives for Howard and Anne Arundel counties and Laurel Mayor Craig A. Moe - will explore funding options with the Office of Economic Adjustment, the Department of Defense agency that offers aid to communities affected by the Base Realignment and Closure process, also known as BRAC.

The other two members of the task force will be the BRAC liaisons for the two counties.

J. Michael Hayes, director of military and federal affairs for the state's economic development agency, said the OEA has encouraged local governments to form regional partnerships to make funding requests. He added that the state is working on making a request to the OEA.

"I am pleased with the cooperation, and I hope it continues," said Owens, a two-term Democrat who will be succeeded next week by Republican John R. Leopold.

Howard County Executive James N. Robey is also stepping down next week. Democrat Ken Ulman will succeed him.

"The challenge of providing especially the transportation infrastructure and education is going to be critical to making [BRAC] something that we all appreciate and not something that we will not all feel bad about happening to the area," Robey said. "We just need the money to get it done."

Local officials said the $1 million would be spent on studies for transportation, work-force issues, housing and staff support. Those reports will be crucial in helping the jurisdictions make the case to the State House and Congress for hundreds of millions of dollars needed for infrastructure and service improvements.

Several transportation priorities are known, including the widening of Route 175, Route 198 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

As the home of Fort Meade, Anne Arundel is tasked with making the grant request, but the money will be divided among Anne Arundel and Howard counties and Laurel.phill.mcgowan@baltsun.com

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