- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2007

Montgomery County is creating a task force to prepare for the influx of people for the 4,236 new jobs expected from the military’s Base Realignment and Closure program.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett said he would appoint the task force in the next week, drawing from residents, community leaders, chamber of commerce members, business owners and elected officials.

“I want to make certain we are properly coordinated, that we’re not lost in the shuffle,” said Mr. Leggett, a Democrat.

The task force also will work on lobbying strategies to get federal money to prepare for the influx, which is scheduled for 2011.

Montgomery joins Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Harford, Howard and Prince George’s counties and Baltimore city in creating a task force or commission to deal with BRAC changes and to seek funding for schools, roads and infrastructure that must expand with the 45,000 jobs expected to come to the state.

“We’re going to seek both federal and state assistance in trying to help relieve traffic problems,” Mr. Leggett said.

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold expects Maryland counties will receive federal money, despite House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer’s statement Monday that the state should be prepared to shoulder the burden of funding for BRAC-related changes.

The statement followed one by U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Democrat, that she would seek federal aid for school districts affected by BRAC. A Mikulski spokeswoman said yesterday that the senator was determined to fight for her proposal.

Hoyer spokeswoman Stephanie Lundberg said Mr. Hoyer, a Democrat, was not saying he would skip lobbying for Maryland’s share of federal money. She said Mr. Hoyer would do what he could to make the BRAC transition easier, including looking for federal aid for the state.

Anne Arundel County, home to Fort Meade, is expected to gain 10,049 jobs. Mr. Leopold, a Republican, said federal funding was necessary to prepare for BRAC.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that Senator Mikulski’s initiative will prevail,” he said. “It’s critical that the infrastructure be in place as the growth develops. We are going to be at the heart of the intelligence network defending this country, so everyone in the country has a stake in ensuring that the growth that is going to occur here occurs in an orderly way.”

Most of Montgomery County’s new jobs will come to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, which will expand as Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District closes.

Mr. Leggett thinks the expansion will create more problems along Wisconsin Avenue, which runs from the District to Montgomery County.

“We’re talking potentially about 5,000 jobs, and it’s in a location where we already have horrendous traffic problems,” he said.

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