Jim Thomas, left, a local resident, speaks with Dennis Dorsey, a project manager with Central Maryland Regional Transit, about public transportation during Fort Meade's first community town hall meeting on Nov. 30 at McGill Training Center. On- and off-post officials were available to discuss community concerns.

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- From traffic outside the installation to education and youth activities on post, nothing was off the table at the first Fort Meade Town Hall.

Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein welcomed an estimated 100 people to the two-hour community event held Nov. 30 at McGill Training Center. The town hall, he said, was a way for him to get a better understanding of what needs to be done on post.

"I'm here to learn," he said. "I'm here to figure out what we're doing well, what we're not doing so well ... and you're going to help me do that."

Speakers included off-post leaders who discussed a wide range of topics regarding Fort Meade and Anne Arundel County, and addressed questions and concerns raised by community members.

During Rothstein's remarks, he commented on his own issues of concern as commander of what is now the third largest Army post in the country. The installation workforce, community outreach, changing footprint, housing, traffic on the road, pedestrian traffic and work/recreation balance topped the list.

Officials from the Maryland State Highway Administration and the president of the Anne Arundel County Economic Development also presented overviews on what is happening in the area.

Maryland State Highway Administration officials Denila Deliallis, project manager, and Barb Solberg, division chief for the Highway Design Division, briefed attendees on several projects taking place outside the installation.

"For all of these projects the goal was to meet the transportation needs that are both current and future, mainly due to the increased jobs," Deliallis said.

Several projects are planned for Route 175, Deliallis said, including adding extra turning lanes into and out of the installation at four intersections. Construction to add the lanes at Rockenbach Road and Disney Road are scheduled to be competed in the fall of 2012, while construction at Mapes Road and Reece Road are still pending funding.

The final briefing was presented by Robert Hannon, president and chief executive officer of Anne Arundel County Economic Development, who spoke about the county's economy. Hannon said the Washington-Baltimore economic region is the fourth most affluent region in the country.

"There is a great deal of interaction among the 23 jurisdictions from Northern Virginia all the way to Hartford County and out to Frederick County," he said. "That's the larger region that Fort Meade sits."

Of the 230,000 jobs in Anne Arundel County, 40 percent are located at Fort Meade, the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport area and Annapolis, Hannon said.

"The residents and citizens of the county, as well as residents of Fort Meade, should avail themselves of all those opportunities," he said.

Hannon answered questions about small-business programs and efforts to attract new retailers. The county, he said, provides programs to help small business partner with banks and gain access to capital.

After a brief intermission, audience members asked subject matter experts about such topics as parking at Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center, internal road conditions, job opportunities for military spouses, child care centers and youth activities.

Otis Duffie, vice president of the Meade High School Parent, Teacher, Student Association, attended the town hall to learn more about possible partnerships between the school and the community.

"The answers I've gotten have been very thorough, very well thought-out and very well presented," Duffie said. "I think this is an excellent event."

Page last updated Thu December 8th, 2011 at 00:00