Archive for Thursday, September 14, 2006

County officials continue work on national center

September 14, 2006

— It will be at least another two months before county officials get word whether a site here is still in the running for the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

But work continues behind the scenes to assure a plan is in place should federal officials select the site at 155th Street and Coffin Road, immediately west of the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.

County leaders met earlier this month to discuss possible road improvements leading to the site.

"We're trying to make sure we're not letting anything fall through the cracks : so if we're lucky enough to get to the next round and people start asking questions, we can have answers for them," said Lynn McClure, executive director of the Leavenworth County Development Corp.

The work primarily has consisted of a review of road surfaces, bridges and culverts along the route expecting to see increased traffic should the site be chosen.

The county has no plans to spend any money on preparing proposals for the project unless its site is still on the list after the next round of cuts, said Chris Dunn, Leavenworth County planning and zoning director.

"If Leavenworth County is on the short list, we'll be able to show them we've done some pre-planning," Dunn said. "Maybe that will make their job a little easier."

County officials also are awaiting a questionnaire from the Homeland Security Department that will ask more specific details about the proposed site, McClure said.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is a joint effort of the U.S. Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services departments. It would employ about 250 scientists in a 500,000-square-foot, $451 million facility who would be charged with helping protect the nation's agriculture and public health.

In August, the Homeland Security Department said the Leavenworth County site survived the first cut and was one of 18 nationally still in the running.

County officials do not expect to hear about the next round of cuts until after the November election.

"This is a governmental process and it takes a lot longer, and sometimes it's not always what makes sense - it's what makes political sense," McClure said. "It's just a wait-and-see game for us."

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