A Defense Department decision to transfer 500 manmakers from white-collar Suitland to silk-stocking Bethesda is proceeding on course despite opposition that might detour a less form doble branch of the federal bureaucracy.
Navy Capt. H.E. Luskin, chief of staff of the Defense Mapping Agency, said yesterday that the Pentagon already has taken "irrevocable actions" toward consolidating its hydrographic center, which draws charts of the seas for the Navy, with its topographic command, which makes land maps for the Army and intelligence agencies.
The move from the Suitland Federal Center in price Geoge's County to close in Brookmont in Montgomery County is only 17 miles, according to any map, but the places are a world apart for some of the people affected.
Except for the Pentagon, which says the consolidation will save the taxpayers $5 million annually, no one seems to be in favor of the move.
Not the 500 employees of the Suitland center, or their unions, who say the move will force workers either to drive across the city in rush-hour traffic or move to one of the nation's most expensive areas.
Not Maryland's two senators and three Washington-area members of Congress, who oppose it because prince Geoge's County wants the employees to stay in SUITLAND, AND SO DO RESIDENTS of Bethesda.
Not the Maryland National Capital Park and Planping Commission, which has voted t go to court & seek an injunction, contending the Pentagon has refused to file an environmental impact statement.
Not the Potomac Valley League, a coalition of 22 montgomery County neighborhood civic associations, which isn't very happy about the 2,500 employees already working at brookmont.
And especially not ABC news commentator How and K. Smith, and is wife, Benedicte, who live next door to the Brookmont facility.
The decision makers are used to hearing complaints from areas where facilities are being closed, but areas receiving the government workers and the money they add to the local economy usually are overjoyed. Such was the case a year ago when the Naval oceanographic Office moved, also from Suitland, to Bay St. Louis, Miss.
But Bethesda is not Bay St. Louis. Silk stocking Bethesda's idea of a military installation is more on the line of the Naval Medical Center, or the New armed forces medical university, than a facrory that makes maps.
Rep. Newton I. Steers (R-MD.), who represents Montgomery County in Congress, testifying against the move before the military installations and facilities subcommittee of the house Armed Services Committee on Sept. 27, conceded that he was "in a rather unusual situation" in opposing the move of a federal facility to his congressional district. "Not many members of Congress do that," Steers said.
Steers noted that his complaining constituents not only included "the distinguished wife ofthe distinguished commentator," who was in the audience, but civic leaders who are "very well informed individuals who work as attorneys, excutives and lobbysis and who are generally very much aware of theri rights. They are concerned about the effects of urban growth on the sylvan neighborhood."
The whole idea of any mapmakers being in her neighborhood, which is just across the District line in Maryland, is something of a mistake. Mrs. Smith wrote in a letter to Congressman Steers.
The Smith home, "High Acre," has overlooked the Potomac Palisades in Brookmont for 100 years while the Army got in, as an emergency measure in World War II, by requistioning a 40 -acre farm next door.
"For reasons that defy logic, they (the Army Map(See MOVE, B2, Col.3)(MOVE, Ffom B1)Service)jammed, and are still jamming, all their most polluting and noisiest operations right up against the side abutting our house, and not on any of the other sides where they have no neighbors," Mrs. Smith wrote.
Mrs. Smith said, nonetheless, that " for many years we got on amicably," with an occasional problem worked out by a phone call to the general in charge. Lately, however, she has observed activities "just outside our windows" that are "not only unreasonable, but illegal."
For example, she said, the Army spilled oil on the ground that seeped into the water supply and "for two years we have been without potable water at our house.e The Army also violated the local code when it built a sewer, and ignored the local code when it built a sewer, and ignored the code a third time when it installed "the noisiest commercial air conditioning towers" next to ter house without regard to their noise or energy consumption.
Mrs, Smith said she cited her personal piques "merely to illustrate the callousness of a millitary bureaucracy in flagrant disrespect of the law." adding that her complaints are echoed by representatives of more than 30 civic organizations.
Rep. Marjorie S. Holt (R-Md.), whose district includes Suitland, and Rep. Gladys Noon Spellman (D-Md.), in whose district many of the Suitland workers live, accused the Pentagon of failing to give Congress 60 days' notice of its planned consolidation, as required by a new law. Mrs. Spellman said the transfer was announced Aug. 5, just after Congress began its summer recess, and the 30-day period for congresional comment ended Sept. 4, before members returned from vacation.
Mrs. Holt testified that the Defense Department announced on March 29 that the Defense Department announced on March 29 that it planned a study of what to do about the two map-making agencies, but before the study was completed, it began a modernization program at Brookmont, foreshadowing its intent.%TThe Montgomery County planning Board voted Wednesday to initiate a law suit to stop the consolidation. Board president Royee Hanson said the Brookmont area is zoned for single'family homes and the proposed expansion would "intensify the nonconforming industrial use."
Ky P. Ewing Jr., president of the Potomac Valley League, on Oct. 31 in a letter to Lt. Gen. Abner Martin, chief of the mapping agency, asker martin to halt the transfer to give the general time to reconsider the decision personally (Martin is newly assigned to the agency).
On Tuesday, Gen. Matin wrote to Ewing that, "I am unable to comply with your requests." He said, however, that he had asked the director of the Brookmont center to set up "informational briefings" with interested officials, citizens and groups.
That offer, explained Capt. Luskin yesterday, "is just part of our good neighbor policy." Protesters will be taken on a tour of the facility merely to see "the lack of impact" the changes will have on their neighborhood. CAPTION:
Picture, Entrance to the Howard K. Smith property. Behind the property, is the new location for the Defense mapping agency. By Gerald Martineau--The Washington Post