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Fort Monroe group puts in for $96.5m from the feds
The Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority, which oversees the transition of the base to civilian control that will take place in 2011, requested the money for infrastructure improvements. The money would come from a federal stimulus program that is expected in 2009.
The Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority board will meet at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Bay Breeze Community Center, Fenwick Drive, Fort Monroe.
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Officials overseeing Fort Monroe's transition to civilian control want federal economic stimulus funds to help pave the way for the Army's departure. Bill Armbruster, executive director of the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority, said he has requested $96.5 million from the federal government for infrastructure improvements, including $20 million for flood protection projects.
"Everybody is lining up. Everybody has got a shopping list," Armbruster said of the stimulus package. "We want to be in the queue."
Regular budget appropriations can't be used for improvements on military bases that the government has decided to close. But an economic stimulus package - such as the one that Congress and the incoming Obama administration are expected to propose - wouldn't have that restriction, Armbruster said. Fort Monroe's closure was announced in 2005; the Army will leave in 2011. Most of the land - 570 acres with unobstructed views of the Chesapeake - will revert to the state, and the development authority is hoping to find tenants for the existing 140 buildings and 300 housing units.
Flood protection is the biggest priority, Armbruster said. Parts of Fort Monroe were substantially damaged by floodwaters from Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The Army Corps of Engineers built a new seawall at the base. Plans for 10 offshore breakwaters were shelved after the closure was announced, Armbruster said. The project would cost about $16 million.
An additional $15 million of the requested funds would go toward improving wastewater collection; replenishing less than a mile of beach along the Chesapeake Bay would cost $10 million. Water system improvements, including installing meters and replacing hydrants, would cost $10 million; street and sidewalk improvements would take $4 million.
Some of the projects are essential for attracting new tenants, Armbruster said. The development authority expects that even if the work isn't done with stimulus funds, it will need to be done within the first five years after the Army leaves - even if there's little or no new development.
Armbruster said that he and Hampton Mayor Molly Ward met with local congressional representatives before Christmas about the request, and were encouraged by their responses.
Kate Wiltrout, (757) 446-2629, firstname.lastname@example.org