In response to the September 14, 2008, opinion piece, The Best Spot for 6,200 Army Workers, appearing in the Washington Post, the Department of the Army will ultimately decide which site is truly the best fit for the employees and mission of the Department of Defenses Washington Headquarters Service, whether it be the Springfield warehouse site, or two viable sites in the City of Alexandria.
The Army will make its final choice based on criteria developed and set forth in its Request for Proposals issued earlier this year. The criteria being used by the Army to make this decision should not be dismissed lightly. The Army, WHS, and their dedicated advisors have spent months determining what is most important to the WHS function and its ability to meet its mission in the long term. These criteria took nearly a year to develop and they will be the benchmark off which the Army will make its final decision.
As with many decisions, there are tradeoffs. Both of the sites located in the City of Alexandria the Mark Center and the Victory Center allow the Army and the Department of Defense to achieve the criteria they have deemed most important without sacrifice. Both Alexandria sites have been thoroughly vetted and meet or exceed the stringent security, transportation, environmental, and future growth requirements outlined in the procurement documents. Many private sites throughout Northern Virginia submitted proposals to the Army, and those that could not meet the setback, transit and other requirements were eliminated from consideration. To assert that the two Alexandria sites do not meet these requirements is incorrect.
Perhaps most importantly, federal law mandates that all relocations and realignments included in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission actions be completed by September 15, 2011. Only the two Alexandria sites can accommodate this schedule from both a construction and transportation infrastructure standpoint. Unlike the Springfield warehouse site, neither Alexandria site requires redevelopment and relocation of existing uses, or the major expense that comes with those activities.
The City of Alexandria has been home to federal operations for over 200 years and was disappointed when the BRAC 2005 legislation mandated the relocation of more than 7,200 DoD employees from throughout Alexandria to multiple installations around the United States. A decision to relocate the 6,200 WHS employees to Alexandria would offset these negative impacts while addressing the persistent legitimate concerns of many, including the Virginia Department of Transportation, about significant negative transportation and infrastructure impacts based on the sizable growth at Fort Belvoir and the Engineer Proving Grounds. In fact, mitigation of transportation impacts in the Fort Belvoir/Springfield area is one of the reasons that the Army opened up the WHS relocation to consider privately owned sites. Either Alexandria site, if selected, would stimulate redevelopment of adjacent areas, such as the Landmark/Van Dorn corridor.
The Army has spent significant time and resources outlining the criteria by which the relocation of the WHS will be decided. The City of Alexandria supports both the Mark Center and Victory Center sites and stands ready to work with the Federal Government and our property owners to meet DoDs objectives and timelines.
The writer is City Manager of the City of Alexandria