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Civil War News
Virginia Legislation Changes Name, Management Of Fort Monroe Group
By Scott C. Boyd
HAMPTON, Va. – Recent legislation by the Virginia General Assembly has changed the name and management structure of the group planning for the transfer of historic Fort Monroe from federal control to the Commonwealth of Virginia when the U.S. Army leaves the post in 2011.
“We will be known as the Fort Monroe Authority and that’s more consistent with what our new mission and task will be. We will ultimately no longer be a federal area,” said William A. Armbruster, Executive Director of the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority (FMFADA), the current oversight organization.
The legislation changes the management structure “from a planning local reuse authority to one that can fully implement the reuse plan, and that’s a key piece for us.” The changes go into effect with the new fiscal year on July 1.
He said, “What that legislation does is create us as a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia, so we have the tools we need to take over and operate and manage this historic community when the Army leaves in September of 2011.”
The Fort Monroe Authority will be able to do everything a local government can do but enact taxes, Armbruster said. “We are of course within the boundaries of the City of Hampton but will be treated as a state enclave.” The Fort Monroe enclave encompasses just 565 acres, and will need assistance from Hampton for some services. “We’re working very closely with the city to develop an agreement on the provision of traditional municipal services [like police, fire and emergency medical response].”
The restructuring in the new legislation is “very extensive,” Armbruster said. It creates an entirely new board structure. “We’ll have a board of trustees of 11 members instead of 18 that we currently have. This board will be more of a business-oriented or corporate-structure board that will be compatible with our implementation mission.”
FMFADA was given a state allocation of $1,926,833 for FY 2011, which was $250,000 less than requested, an 11.9 percent reduction.
“We took a cut, but quite honestly we fared pretty well,” Armbruster said. “Given the fiscal climate in Richmond, we shared in the pain with others, but we can make this work for us.”
The effort to include part of Fort Monroe as a unit of the National Park Service (NPS) is “very encouraging,” according to Armbruster. “We’ve had a good meeting with the leaders of the NPS. We’re pleased with the response and the attitude.”
He said they are hopeful of having some sort of draft legislation by early fall. “We’re actively pursuing an expansion of the NPS presence down here at Fort Monroe.”
The state will not sell any of the land at Fort Monroe, but some of it will be leased for commercial and residential use.
“We are pursuing with the Army an interim lease to allow us to begin to manage and operate part of the housing units down here at Fort Monroe,” Armbruster said.
He said the authority hired a management firm to help with this and hopes to be managing a portion of the housing area by mid-summer.
The next FMFADA board meeting is May 20 at 1 p.m. at the Bay Breeze Community Center at Fort Monroe. For information go to www.fmfada.com.