Mikulski Writes ot GSA About Proposed Training Center

Senator Barbara Mikulski sent a strongly worded letter to the head of a federal agency demanding better communication about a proposed federal training center planned on the Eastern Shore. Mikulski wrote to the head of the federal General Services Administration saying representatives from the State Department and the GSA gave two presentations last week in Queen Anne’s County and failed to answer questions satisfactorily. The letter follows a vote last month by Queen Anne’s County commissioners to withdraw support for the Ruthsburg complex. The State Department wants to consolidate training at one site within 150 miles of Washington. County officials have expressed concerns about weapons training, traffic and water pollution.

The General Services Administration has agreed to comply with the demands outlined by U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., to better address community concerns about the proposed Foreign Affairs Security Training Center in Ruthsburg. In a letter addressed to Mikulski, Stephen Leeds, acting administrator of GSA, said the agency will extend the public comment period from January 15 to February 19, hold two additional public meetings prior to February 19, ensure that the staff present at the upcoming meetings can effectively speak to the specifics of the project and explain the community’s role in the process and arrange for local property owners to tour similar federal facilities, all of which Mikulski asked for in her January 8 letter.

The dates for the additional public hearings have not yet been released by the GSA, but Leeds said they will be released within a week. Also in his letter, Leeds said the GSA will publicize responses to questions and comments received by the public at www.state.gov/recovery. Mikulski’s comments came on the heels of mounting community outrage following two public meetings held recently at Queen Anne’s County High School, where residents searching for answers to basic questions were left uninformed by GSA representatives. Of major concern to residents was the timeline for the project, its environmental impacts and how community input would be taken into account, according to Mikulski’s letter.

In her letter to Leeds, Mikulski wrote, “GSA representatives were completely unprepared to answer fundamental, legitimate questions pertaining to the community’s concerns about the facility. They displayed a shocking, inexcusable and inexplicable lack of preparation, which has resulted in threats of lawsuits, widespread anger and what I fear now is an implacable opposition to the project.”