Outook bright for new Lee lodging
May 13, 2010
FORT LEE, Va. (May 13, 2010) -- The Army is ready to move forward with its proposed 1000-room lodging facility here after Col. Michael G. Morrow, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee commander, signed a Finding of No Significant Impact April 30, following seven months of formal environmental assessments.
Fort Lee began to examine the requirements for a new lodging facility in 2003. The analysis, including an environmental assessment, was detailed and thorough, Morrow stated. Based on the findings of the final environmental assessment, and the comments from regulatory officials and the public, the potential impacts of the new construction would not be significant or adversely affect the quality of the human environment, he said. The signing of the FONSI closes the National Environmental Policy Act process that requires all proposed federal actions to undergo analysis for potential environmental impacts. An Environmental Impact Statement is not required.
Throughout the NEPA process, it is important to note that ample time was allowed for public participation, to include an extension to the public comment period, according to Fort Lee Environmental Management Office reports.
The Army may now proceed with the construction of the lodging facility. The design (currently underway) of the proposed $120-million, seven-story building is the only action that could take place prior to the finalization of the NEPA process.
Post officials describe the proposed lodging facility as a big step forward in meeting the Army's goal of providing quality on-post lodging that is commensurate with Soldiers' and Families' service to our nation. It also meets the vision of the recently released Installation Management Command Plan and the Army Family Covenant that was launched in 2007.
Furthermore, officials from the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command said the new facility is essential to the post's mission of training Soldiers and it will help Fort Lee comply with the latest military guidelines that require 80 percent of an installation's student population to be housed on post.
The Army is also projecting significant long-term benefits to the local economy, including the estimated $6.4 million in annual wages and roughly $2.1 million in goods and services, much of it purchased locally.
As the transient population grows, Fort Lee and the surrounding communities and businesses will remain partners in the efforts to provide quality off-post temporary lodging as well for the installation's Soldiers, Families and Civilians, Morrow said.
The installation has received Department of Defense approval for the construction contract award and expects to award the contract within two to three weeks of the FONSI being signed. Start date for construction will be 60 days from the award of the contract and the anticipated duration of the build will be approximately 22 months. The lodging facility should be complete by mid-2012.