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Monroe decisions coming this week
McDonnell says he is hopeful historic post will be financial viable
By David Macaulay, firstname.lastname@example.org | 247-7838
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Monday that his appointments to the new Fort Monroe Authority should be known this week.
But during the governor's visit to the historic post, Fort Monroe's big day was overshadowed by an announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk will be closed. McDonnell cut short his visit to Fort Monroe to leave for a meeting in Norfolk.
The governor had been due to issue a proclamation celebrating Hampton's 400th anniversary and to sign Senate Bill 315 at 3:30 p.m. on Monday. The bill establishes the new Fort Monroe Authority, the body responsible for the historic post after the Army vacates it on Sept. 15, 2011. Instead his helicopter landed at 2:15 p.m. and he was given a 40-minute bus tour of Fort Monroe before departing for Norfolk.
Although the new Fort Monroe Authority was created on July 1, McDonnell is yet to name his five appointees to the board that will oversee the transition after the Army leaves.
He said they had already been picked and some names would be forthcoming this week.
"I have a couple of new appointments to the new authority that was just created July 1," he said. "I'll make those announcements later this week and we'll have a very good team of business leaders, finance leaders and local government leaders that will make sure that the economics of this place work well and that the proud traditions of the military work well here."
The future of Fort Monroe would be about balancing its uses, McDonnell said.
"There's a balance between historic preservation, park, mixed use and commercial space. The traditions go back a couple of hundred years and we have to make sure that's included in the final plan," he said.
McDonnell said he had not yet looked at the figures in a consultant's study that suggest the new authority will have to find up to $80 million for infrastructure repairs with nothing for capital improvements in the coffers.
"I know the re-use plan has been developed which will probably have some tweaks made to it," he said. "It's key that we have an economic plan that works. We have to balance the state and local government service responsibilities and tax revenues so as it's a win-win.
"We have to make sure as much of the natural beauty, the history, the parks and the beaches are preserved for the public but done in a way that makes economic sense," he said.
McDonnell said there was still a "technical dispute" with the military about some aspects of land ownership at Fort Monroe.
"I believe the state owns 80 percent of it," he said. "I think we've still got a couple of things we need to work out with the federal government to make sure they agree with that."
McDonnell said he regretted not being able to make the proclamation recognizing Hampton's 400 anniversary, but would return to the city to do it.