Feds give BDC $1M

Will fund re­me­di­a­tion study

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— The Bain­bridge De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion re­ceived a $1 mil­lion grant from the U.S. Depart­ment of De­fense’s of­fice of eco­nomic ad­just­ment Thurs­day to help it re­de­velop the 1,200-acre former naval train­ing cen­ter.

“We couldn’t be more ex­cited,” said Toni Lozzi, project co­or­di­na­tor for the BDC. “It’s a god­send.”

It’s the first ma­jor com­mit­ment from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to Bain­bridge since per­va­sive con­tam­i­na­tion was de­tected in soil in parts of the prop­erty more than five years ago.

In 2000, the U.S. Navy trans­ferred own­er­ship of the Bain­bridge prop­erty to the BDC, a state-or­ga­nized en­tity tasked with rede­vel­op­ment of the former Tome School for Boys and U.S. Naval Train­ing Cen­ter Bain­bridge prop­erty that over­looks Port De­posit. Then, it was deemed suit­able for trans­fer with­out de­vel­op­ment re­stric­tions.

At that point, the 1,200acre site had un­der­gone sev­eral years of en­vi­ron­men­tal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as­sess­ment and re­me­di­a­tion. But in mid-2008, the BDC

PORT DE­POSIT

was told of a con­tam­i­na­tion prob­lem on the prop­erty dis­cov­ered as de­vel­op­ers were in­volved in a vol­un­tary cleanup pro­gram be­fore they started de­vel­op­ment.

An as­sess­ment of the en­tire site, as re­quested by the Mary­land Depart­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment, was com­pleted by mid-2010, re­veal­ing more wide­spread is­sues. Since then, rede­vel­op­ment ef­forts have been at a stand­still as of­fi­cials tried to hash out re­me­di­a­tion with the Navy, which has been slow to in­vest into the project due to its own tight­en­ing bud­get. At the same time, a dev­as­tat­ing ar­son fire ripped through the prop­erty’s his­toric Me­mo­rial Hall two years ago.

The $1 mil­lion grant is ex­pected to cover all the steps nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine a more def­i­nite cost of re­me­di­a­tion, which they are still work­ing with the U.S. Navy to re­solve cleanup is­sues.

“Ad­di­tional site-wide soil sam­ples are needed to un­der­stand the po­ten­tial risks of con­tam­i­na­tion and de­ter­mine a re­me­dial strat­egy and costs,” Lozzi said Thurs­day af­ter­noon. “Then the rede­vel­op­ment plan can be re-eval­u­ated.”

Dis­cus­sions with the Navy have re­sulted in a good out­come so far, Lozzi said.

“We ex­pect to have re­sults done by the spring of 2017,” she added, al­though the term of the $1 mil­lion grant lasts through Aug. 30.

The first step in the process is to put to­gether all data from pre­vi­ous, in­di­vid­ual soil test­ing maps into one map so that it will be clear as to which ar­eas still need to be sam­pled. Af­ter soil test­ing on re­main­ing ar­eas is done, a work plan must be ap­proved by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, then a risk as­sess­ment and fi­nally a re­me­dial strat­egy and cost es­ti­mates to do the re­me­di­a­tion will take place.

Por­tions of the Bain­bridge prop­erty that have no con­cern of con­tam­i­na­tion are poised for rede­vel­op­ment as early as next spring, based on the grant work and a county pro­posal to build a new re­gional waste­water plant on the prop­erty to serve both Bain­bridge and Port De­posit.

“Prospect in­ter­est has in­creased this year,” Lozzi said.

BDC Chair­man of the Board Michael Pugh told nearly 50 real es­tate bro­kers who were tour­ing the county’s com­mer­cial prop­er­ties Wed­nes­day that Bain­bridge is ready for de­vel­op­ment.

He told county coun­cil mem­bers last month that Bain­bridge lost a bot­tling com­pany prospect ear­lier this year that would have in­vested $145 mil­lion and cre­ated 135 jobs be­cause the BDC couldn’t give com­pany of­fi­cials a date when water and sewer would be avail­able.

Since that time, the county has in­tro­duced a bud­get amend­ment that is up for ap­proval Oct. 18 that will start engi­neer­ing and de­sign for a waste­water treat­ment fa­cil­ity on the Bain­bridge prop­erty within 18 months.

Pugh also re­cently dis­cussed with Port De­posit of­fi­cials the findings of a 54-page strate­gic plan, pre­pared by We­ston So­lu­tions, of West Ch­ester, Pa., that sought to as­sess the best use or uses for the Tome School prop­erty and found that while the prop­erty faces sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­tam­i­na­tion, his­tor­i­cal preser­va­tion re­straints and a lack of in­fra­struc­ture, the site is a mar­ket-vi­able project.

“About a year from now, a plan will emerge, which will be close to a fi­nal de­vel­op­ment con­cept plan for Bain­bridge,” he said. “We can find uses (and) help the western end of the county re­gain its foot­ing.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

Alan McCarthy, the Repub­li­can can­di­date for Ce­cil County Ex­ec­u­tive, em­pha­sized a need to ad­dress the county’s eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity and its sub­stance abuse is­sue.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

The former Bain­bridge Naval Train­ing Cen­ter lies in dis­re­pair on the cliffs above Port De­posit, dor­mant from ac­tiv­ity in the 16 years since the U.S. Navy gave the land to the State of Mary­land, but a new fed­eral grant may help spur rede­vel­op­ment ef­forts.

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