LO­CAL OPIN­IONS

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - RUSHERN L. BAKER III PRINCE GE­ORGE’S COUNTY The writer, a Demo­crat, is Prince Ge­orge’s County ex­ec­u­tive.

Why Prince Ge­orge’s County is the log­i­cal choice for the new FBI head­quar­ters build­ing.

In 1941, with World War II un­der­way in Europe and Asia, Pres­i­dent Franklin D. Roo­sevelt rec­og­nized the chal­lenges pre­sented by a War Depart­ment that was spread out in dozens of tem­po­rary build­ings on the Mall and around the area. Roo­sevelt ap­proved Ar­ling­ton County as the home for what even­tu­ally be­came the Pen­tagon. By do­ing so, he cre­ated a mas­sive com­plex that kept this na­tion se­cure for decades, but he also cre­ated a dy­namic eco­nomic force for North­ern Vir­ginia for decades to come.

Some 76 years later, our na­tion con­tin­ues to face threats to our na­tional se­cu­rity. Our threats to­day are ter­ror­ism, cy­ber­war­fare, crime and cor­rup­tion. And the agency on the front lines of our na­tion’s do­mes­tic se­cu­rity and for­eign in­tel­li­gence is the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion.

To­day, like the War Depart­ment in the 1940s, the FBI is hap­haz­ardly dis­persed among as many as two dozen build­ings, in­clud­ing many that lack se­cu­rity pro­tec­tions. The down­town FBI head­quar­ters, the J. Edgar Hoover Build­ing, is lit­er­ally fall­ing apart and was not built for the mis­sion of the mod­ern FBI, fall­ing short on the tech­nol­ogy, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and co­or­di­na­tion needed to ful­fill its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. The FBI is in des­per­ate need of a con­sol­i­dated head­quar­ters, and our na­tion is in des­per­ate need of the most se­cure head­quar­ters we can pro­vide.

Two of the fi­nal three sites iden­ti­fied as po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions for this con­sol­i­dated, high-se­cu­rity FBI cam­pus are in Prince Ge­orge’s County. The third is in Spring­field. The two sites in Prince Ge­orge’s — the for­mer Lan­dover Mall prop­erty and the cur­rent Green­belt Metro sta­tion park­ing lot — are best for the agency, best for the fed­eral bud­get and best for the pro­tec­tion of this na­tion. They meet all FBI pro­gram­ming, lo­gis­ti­cal and se­cu­rity re­quire­ments and have su­pe­rior ameni­ties and needed re­sources for the FBI’s mod­ern mis­sion.

Of all the ad­van­tages our two sites have over the com­pet­ing Vir­ginia site, time and money are the most rel­e­vant. The Vir­ginia site is oc­cu­pied by two sub­stan­tial fed­eral agen­cies that would have to be re­lo­cated be­fore the FBI could be­gin con­struc­tion, cre­at­ing a five-year de­lay in ac­cess­ing the site and more than $210 mil­lion in ad­di­tional ex­penses for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Our na­tion’s lead­ers can­not af­ford to waste that time.

Prince Ge­orge’s County and Mary­land, work­ing closely to­gether, have plans in place to al­low ex­pe­dited and timely de­vel­op­ment of the Green­belt and Lan­dover sites con­sis­tent with all re­quire­ments. Prince Ge­orge’s and the state have made $300 mil­lion in com­mit­ments to fund the trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments needed at th­ese sites to sup­port the FBI head­quar­ters con­struc­tion.

Re­lo­cat­ing the FBI to one of the Mary­land sites is also the best choice for re­gional growth and eq­uity. For far too long, and for many in­de­fen­si­ble rea­sons, there has been an un­equal dis­tri­bu­tion of fed­eral re­sources within the metropoli­tan area. Prince Ge­orge’s County is home to less than 4 per­cent of the re­gion’s fed­eral of­fice leas­ing space. We have more than 75,000 fed­eral work­ers and only 25,000 fed­eral jobs. One has to look no fur­ther than rush­hour traf­fic re­ports to see it is our res­i­dents who are dis­pro­por­tion­ately forced to en­dure Belt­way con­ges­tion. Metro rid­er­ship data clearly shows the num­ber of empty Metro cars head­ing to Prince Ge­orge’s County ev­ery week­day morn­ing.

It is clear that the best choice to ad­dress traf­fic con­ges­tion, help grow our re­gion in an in­tel­li­gent man­ner and pro­vide value to the U.S. tax­payer is found in ei­ther of the two Prince Ge­orge’s sites. It is im­per­a­tive to the se­cu­rity of our na­tion that this de­ci­sion is made now and the FBI is pro­vided with a mod­ern con­sol­i­dated head­quar­ters fa­cil­ity as quickly as pos­si­ble to pro­vide the best de­fense against crim­i­nals, ter­ror­ists, and for­eign and do­mes­tic threats.

Just as the lo­ca­tion of the Pen­tagon in North­ern Vir­ginia changed that area for­ever, the choice of a Prince Ge­orge’s County site for the FBI would fun­da­men­tally rein­vent this county.

BREN­DAN SMIALOWSKI/AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The J. Edgar Hoover Build­ing, head­quar­ters for the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion, in the District.

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