Q&a -- J. Michael Hayes

On Brac: Don't Panic

A Marine veteran in state government explains Maryland's problems and opportunities as the Defense Department carries out its Base Realignment and Closure program

June 08, 2008|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun reporter

The federal government's military Base Realignment and Closure and other shifts are expected to add as many as 60,000 jobs - about 20,000 of them government employees - and 28,000 households in Maryland over more than a decade: military personnel, civilian employees, contractors and supporting roles. They also will heighten demand here for everything from transportation improvements to a well-educated work force.

Since 1999, Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development has had an Office of Military and Federal Affairs. That same year, Brig. Gen. J. Michael Hayes retired from the Marine Corps, and he has run this office ever since. He commutes from Northern Virginia to Baltimore.

The office coordinates the interaction between state and local agencies and the federal government, mostly the military, as well as coordinating the management of the state issues that stem from the federal government's Base Realignment and Closure. It staffs the BRAC subcabinet led by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.

We talked with Hayes about the massive relocation.

When is everyone coming?

The vast majority of the moves are 2010 and 2011. There are a number of military bases in Maryland growing significantly, and we call it BRAC. But it all really isn't. In the case of Aberdeen [Proving Ground], they are beginning to come from New Jersey. We expect a couple hundred this summer and as many as 600 by next summer. When we say there are as many as 60,000 jobs coming, it is important to understand that those are three categories. There are BRAC government jobs which we call direct - those are the government employees. There are the indirect jobs. That means defense contractors, but it is more than that. The third category is induced jobs that come into being as a result of increased population or increased spending power - retail, restaurant, used cars. We have no expectation of 60,000 jobs by 2011. Some of these nongovernment jobs follow in the years that follow. You have probably seen numbers that exceed 20,000 at Fort Meade, and they include the business parks and the enhanced use lease [EUL] program, which allows the private sector to use property at Aberdeen and Fort Meade. The ratio of contractor to Department of Defense function is 1.2 to 1 and up to 3 to 1. For Aberdeen and Meade, the large numbers and the large impact on the communities are because of the defense contractors.

Maryland has five bases growing as a result of BRAC and other changes - Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Detrick, Fort Meade, National Naval Medical Center and Andrews Air Force Base. Where is everybody coming from?

At Fort Detrick, mainly it's an expansion of functions as opposed to people migrating from one place. At Andrews, it is primarily people in the Washington area. At Bethesda, it's D.C.-area. At Aberdeen, New Jersey and Virginia; at Meade, mostly from Northern Virginia.

What are the infrastructure issues?

The home jurisdictions all have somewhat different challenges. Frederick County and the city of Frederick have to deal with the growth there, and the traffic. The primary concern in Montgomery County is traffic associated with the increased patient load at Bethesda [another 1,862 per day]. Andrews will have some road issues. At Fort Meade, the challenges are largely transportation infrastructure. At Aberdeen, for Harford County, the challenges are both transportation infrastructure and to some extent water and sewer issues. There are some initiatives that are moving that ball forward. ... In the case of Fort Meade, the outreach is Howard County, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, obviously, Prince George's County, Montgomery County, Carroll County, even Queen Anne's County, and the cities of Baltimore and Laurel. In the case of Aberdeen, the planning goes beyond the state of Maryland. The Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor encompasses the planning efforts of the city of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Cecil County and Harford County. They are also working with two counties in Pennsylvania, sometimes a third, but also New Castle County in Delaware.

The challenges for Fort Meade are also determining when people are going to move from Northern Virginia. We think in many cases they will commute.

Let's talk about transportation and roads. Is the federal government providing money to Maryland to help ease that?

Yes, not to the extent obviously to which any of us would desire. But they have been helpful. ... There is no way that Maryland or any other state would have the resources to move as quickly as this BRAC timeline says. We are still within the last year of completing work in St. Mary's County relative to the BRAC from the 1990s. [Maryland Department of Transportation figures point to $1.7 billion for 31 BRAC-related projects over a six-year period that starts in July.

Roughly $100 million of that is slated for federal dollars. Officials say as planning progresses, figures may change.] Is it enough? Of course not.

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