Region hit with base closure

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

North Suffolk’s U.S. Joint Forces Command was spared from BRAC’s closure list Friday.

Though it’s not final, the 400-year-old Fort Monroe in Hampton is the only Virginia base on the national list of bases recommended to shut down by the Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

&uot;I think things could have been better than they were,&uot; said E. Dana Dickens III, president and chief executive officer of the Hampton Roads Partnership, a regional economic development alliance, &uot;but they could have been a lot worse.

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&uot;There are people in Suffolk who very likely work at Fort Monroe. But it doesn’t appear that we’ll lose jobs.&uot;

Hampton officials plan to fight to keep the base open, but meanwhile the impact of its closure is dominating talks. Discussions so far indicate that some jobs will be shifted to Fort Eustis, which would see some consolidation of functions. While not slated for closure, NAS Oceana could see some 110 jobs moved outside Virginia.

&uot;Overall, the Commonwealth appears to have fared reasonably well,&uot; said Gov. Mark R. Warner, in response to BRAC’s recommendations.

&uot;This is a reflection of the strong efforts we have made with our local communities and members of our congressional delegation to make the case that Virginia has been a strong, reliable partner to our nation’s military.&uot;

Warner points out that Fort Belvoir in Woodbridge leads the nation with a proposed gain of almost 12,000 military and civilian positions.

Also, Petersburg’s Fort Lee could see an additional 7,300 personnel.

Analysts also anticipate Hampton Roads shipyards will experience growth alongside the world’s largest navy base at Norfolk.

Meanwhile, there’s still a long road ahead.

&uot;We currently are analyzing the detailed documentation that accompanied today’s announcement from the Defense Department to ensure that the correct information was used in compiling these recommendations,&uot; said Warner.

&uot;We will continue to work with local officials to marshal the strongest possible arguments in an effort to influence this process as it moves forward…It is important that everyone recognize this is but one step in a lengthy process that will continue through the summer and fall.&uot;