Navy's Land Lease Proposal Stalled - Southern Maryland Headline News

Navy's Land Lease Proposal Stalled

By Guy Leonard, County Times

HOLLYWOOD, Md. — A proposal to build new office space and amenities inside the base main gate at Naval Air Station Patuxent River as part of a strategy to update aging facilities there has stalled, officials on base and with the U.S. Navy told The County Times.

Edward Zeigler, spokesman for the Naval District of Washington, said that congressional questions surrounding the proposal, which would affect seven different sites on base, and some in the local community fear would harm business outside the gate, have brought the process to a halt.

The Navy was still waiting on congressional approval of the proposal, Zeigler said.

“Until we get that we’re kind of at a standstill right now,” he said.

Capt. Stephen Schmeiser, commanding officer of NAS Pax River, said the process has yet to move past a meeting that called for requests from developers to bid on the project.

“We’re still at the draft stage,” Schmeiser said.

Calls to Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s office, representative for the 5th District, as to what the actual problems with the proposal were, were not returned as of press time.

The Navy held a industry forum in June of 2010 to advertise the requirements for the project and give developers both large and small a chance to bid on the project, though local companies complained that the Navy likely already had large-scale construction vendors in mind to complete the large and novel project and that smaller contractors would likely be excluded by virtue of their size.

Bob Schaller, director of the county’s department of economic and community development, said that while rumors had been swirling about why the proposal had stalled, one of the reasons was simple: this project coupled with one at the Solomons recreation annex and the Indian Head facility in Charles County was simply too large to handle quickly.

Meanwhile local base officials still have to deal with an aging office infrastructure which they have said could hinder the base’s ability to attract new workers, new programs and stay relevant.

“One of the practical issues is that all three of these are still in the draft stage,” Schaller said. “It may be that it’s an ambitious endeavor to do three projects at once.

“The first one of anything is always the hardest.”

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