Base seeks neighbors' help on vision for area

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 23, 2011

With almost 3,000 people expected to descend on Quantico Marine Corps base come spring, Quantico officials are calling on their neighbors to join forces and, for the first time, create a regional vision for the future of the base and its surrounding jurisdictions.

Quantico officials said they want to form a regional committee and planning team that would develop and implement a long-range strategic vision that encompasses Quantico, Prince William, Stafford and Fauquier counties.

The organizations will have members from all the parties involved and help strengthen relationships between the base and its neighbors - all of which are bracing for 2,700 people to come to the area starting in April because of the Base Realignment and Closure Act.

"I think this is a good thing," Prince William Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries) said. "It's a fantastic base. I think [Base Commander] Colonel Daniel Choike is wise to want to do this and to plan for the future and determine what our vision is going to be over the next 10 to 20 years."

The two proposed groups are the Quantico Regional Executive Steering Committee and the Quantico Regional Planning Team. The groups will serve as an extension of the Quantico Growth Management Committee, which has brought Stafford and Prince William officials together over the past few years to discuss the impact of BRAC.

"This is a natural progression, and we want to build on the foundation we have established," said Marine Corps Base official John Rosewarne, lead coordinator for BRAC at Quantico. "The growth management committee was successful . . . and we learned a lot along the way of how we can improve coordination between the base" and the neighboring communities.

While the base does interact with its neighbors, the proposed groups would allow for a more coordinated effort regarding land use and growth management. The proposed steering committee would provide the strategic vision while the planning team would act as the operational body and execute the strategies developed, Rosewarne said.

Players involved in both groups would include representatives from the Prince William, Stafford and Fauquier counties' Board of Supervisors as well as representatives from the George Washington, Northern Virginia and Rappahannock Rapidan regional commissions, Rosewarne said. Key officials from economic development groups, local universities and surrounding military facilities would also be involved.

"I've had an opportunity to look at this [plan] and I'm very pleased," Prince William County Supervisor John D. Jenkins (D-Neabsco) said. "I think it is something that would be beneficial for all of us and allow for input from all stakeholders."

Jenkins said he wants the Prince William board to officially support the plan in the next few months. Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Dudenhefer echoed Jenkins after his board was briefed on the issue Tuesday.

"We are very interested in helping the Marine Corps protect its mission," Dudenhefer said. "Colonel Choike is much more open to talking and listening, and he sees the value in communicating."

Dudenhefer said Stafford has wanted to work more closely with the base for years and just recently modified its comprehensive plan to help prevent encroachment on the base. The base is one of the big economic engines of the region, he said, so it only makes sense to strengthen the relationship with base officials.

While the two proposed groups will help plan a long-term vision for the base and its neighbors, there remains a bigger issue - funding for transportation improvements, officials in Stafford and Prince William said.

The federal government has not provided adequate funding for the road improvements needed for the influx of people coming, local officials said. Widening Route 1 in Prince William and Stafford is a high priority as well as upgrading Interstate 95 and its exits near the base.

"It's very frustrating, and the federal government has not done what it is supposed to do," Caddigan said. "We might have more clout working with Colonel Choike now. But he has a plan for the future to protect the base, and we need something immediately."

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