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June 05, 2008

Supervisors updated on military base expansion

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20080604-JUIAF1
Rivanna Station Military Base
Existing NGIC facility (on left) with new
Defense Intelligence Agency JUIAF building (on right)

On June 4, 2008, Fort Belvoir’s Col. Mark Moffatt made the trip from Fairfax, VA to give his first briefing to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on the growing Rivanna Station Military Base on Route 29 North.  Moffatt is responsible for new construction related to the Federal Base Relocation and Closure (BRAC) program for defense facilities being built at both Ft. Belvoir, in Fairfax, and near Albemarle’s National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC).  Ft. Belvoir is receiving 19,300 relocated personnel while Rivanna Station, home to NGIC, is expected to add 1,000 personnel.

“Everybody wants to know about… jobs,” said Moffatt.  “What are those opportunities?   What are 1,000 people going to do with potentially a 1,000 cars?  What’s going to happen with the combination there of Boulder’s Road and Route 29? What’s going to happen with school systems, with the environment as we build and work through all the complex issues we have to face?”

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20080604-Moffatt In Charlottesville, Moffatt will oversee construction of the $58.5 million Joint Use Intelligence Analysis Facility (JUIAF).  This 170,000 sq.ft. building will be located on about 47 acres of land the federal government purchased from local developer Wendell Wood.  The site will accommodate 800 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel and 200 additional NGIC personnel.  Parking will be available in surface lots for 625 vehicles.

“[It] is really an exciting time in our nation’s history,” said Moffatt. “This particular facility will be able to reach back to our nation’s capital and be able to provide the up to the minute analysis that they need to have to answer certain questions.  Charlottesville, and the greater Charlottesville area, is playing an important part for our national security…”

Recent discussions of the base expansion have included plans for the expansion of the NGIC facility’s existing Nicholson Building.  According to Moffatt, that is not an immediate project as there is no funding expected for five years, until 2013 at the earliest.

The Board of Supervisors asked Colonel Moffatt about the type of people that would be coming to Charlottesville, about the recently completed environmental review, and about the facility’s potential support for public transit. 

20080604-NGIC-JUIAF In previous presentations, the Supervisors have been told that Rivanna Station’s growth should be viewed as a workforce relocation program and not a significant job creation opportunity.  All jobs associated with the relocation require high level skills and education and security clearances and are currently filled by employees who will be offered the opportunity to maintain their employment.

Moffatt was asked by Supervisor Dennis Rooker (Jack Jouett) when the military would know how many of the 1,000 people who were having their jobs relocated to Charlottesville would be accepting or declining that transfer.  Moffatt said he did not have the exact details from the DIA as to the current mood of the  employees about the potential move.  “I would tell you living in Fairfax County… I don’t know why they wouldn’t want to move down to Charlottesville.”

“The jobs that are coming here are high demand, well paying jobs,” said Moffatt. “The Charlottesville area has a lot going for it that, I would think, would encourage folks to say ‘I don’t need to mess with 90 minutes to 2 hours of commute…’”  Moffatt said he expects easily 70-80% of the employees to move.

Supervisors also sought confirmation that Wendell Wood’s adjacent commercial development was really needed to support the base’s operations.  Moffatt said that “in many people’s estimation,” Wood’s development would support the work at the base.  He described the contractors working outside a base as being part of what is known as “the contractor tail,” the group of support personnel around a military facility.

Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio) asked how many people might be in that “contractor tail” in addition to the 1,000 personnel being relocated.  Moffatt said he was unsure and didn’t have any confidence in the estimates he has been provided previously, but that he would get back to the Board with a more accurate number within 30 days.

The Board’s discussion with Colonel Moffatt concluded with Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) and Slutzky encouraging traffic management accommodations, and financial contributions, for public transit to the base.

“In general in this community we are hoping to get much more public transit, and I think the price of gas is going make that more and more desirable,” said Thomas.  “Right now, for example, the way things are organized [at NGIC], it is difficult for a bus even to go in and deliver the few employees who come by bus...” She asked that transit accommodations be taken very seriously as they plan the base.  Moffatt agreed that it would be important to establish the viability of public transit from the very beginning of an employee’s tenure at the base, otherwise, he thought they would get too accustomed to driving their single occupancy vehicle.

Slutzky didn’t let Moffatt leave without making a pitch for political and financial assistance for the City-County Regional Transit Authority.  “It wouldn’t be an unwelcome thought…to [have you] look at potentially contributing, or planning to contribute, to the cost of extending a [bus] route out to the NGIC facility…”

Moffatt pointed out that while 1,000 people would be coming, only 625 new parking spaces were being built.  Moffatt has to meet the federal government’s goal in new construction of only providing parking for 60% of the employees. Slutzky said he was glad to hear about that requirement.  “It forces all of us to have to address it and that’s how we get transit results.”

Brian Wheeler

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