View Full Version : Marines want a piece of your mind

08-20-06, 08:51 AM
Marines want a piece of your mind
Sunday, August 20, 2006

Quantico Marine Corps base officials want the public's input as they prepare to house 3,000 new federal employees in five years.

A meeting is scheduled for 7 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Ramada Inn in Triangle to get comments from residents as part of the base's process to develop an Environmental Impact Statement related in part to the Base Realignment and Closure recommendations that will move several military agencies to Quantico.

The Environmental Impact Statement is required by federal law to ensure the least harm to the environment.

Last fall, President Bush approved the BRAC recommendations that call for moving the military's criminal investigative services as well as other law enforcement activities to the 65,000-acre Marine base in eastern Prince William County.

This includes moving the Naval Criminal Investigative functions from the Washington, D.C., Naval Yard as well as the Army Criminal Investigation Command from Fort Belvoir to Quantico.

Additionally, the military's Counterintelligence Field Activity and Defense Security Service, both located in metropolitan Washington, D.C., are to be moved to Quantico.

The Quantico base is already home to the FBI Academy and the FBI Laboratory, as well as a number of the department's other units, such as its Behavioral Science Unit. The Drug Enforcement Administration also has its training academy at the base.

Quantico must be ready with new workspace for the new 3,000 employees by September 2011.

Base officials propose building the office space on two parcels of land just west of Interstate 95 along both sides of Russell and Telegraph roads before the security gate, as well as farther into the western section of the base along Marine Corps Base One Road.

"We are not just looking at BRAC, but we are also looking at long-range planning," said Chuck Rushing, director of facilities for Quantico.

The base had started the process for a different environmental impact statement three years ago to determine what future activities could be held at Quantico that would not interfere with its primary mission of training new Marines.

That process is being rolled into the new one related to BRAC, Rushing said.

The statement will include the feasibility of adding 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000 new employees to the 3,000 already coming through BRAC.

"We don't know yet if we can accommodate more," Rushing said. "The process will determine what will happen.

"The reason we are looking at future growth is so that we can control our destiny," Rushing said. "We are not looking to bring more people here, but we are asked often if we could accommodate more."

Although the base is large, much of it needs to remain open and undeveloped for Marine training. Then there are environmental limitations such as portions of the base too steep to build on.

"What we're left with is just a couple hundred acres," Rushing said. "We need to determine what we can do with those couple hundred acres."

Local elected officials have already been talking to Rushing and others about BRAC and the future of the base during meetings of the Quantico Growth Management Committee, which includes members of Prince William and Stafford supervisors.

They have expressed concerns about what Rushing said he anticipates to hear much more about during the public meeting: traffic.

"We already know that the impact on traffic is first and foremost the key issue," Rushing said. "We will identify mitigating measures to address that."

Developing the environmental statement is just one of the first steps before any decisions are made and the public will have a second opportunity to be heard before that happens.

While Quantico has only five years to prepare, Rushing said he believes there will not be a problem meeting the deadline.

"We are not on a crash schedule," Rushing said. "There are a lot of planning things we can do before we turn that first shovel of dirt."

The Quantico Marine Corps base is already home to about 7,000 civilians and 7,000 military personnel.

The Marine Combat Development Center, Officer Candidate School, The Basic School, the Marine Corps University as well as a number of other schools are located aboard Quantico. It also houses the Presidential helicopter squadron.