Libby Garvey Calls for Lawsuit to Stop BRAC Building Opening

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    It appears that 30th State Senate district Democratic candidate Libby Garvey intends to raise the Mark Center issue every chance she gets. A few weeks ago, as we discussed at Blue Virginia, the Garvey campaign sent out a press release expressing its “outrage” over the “BRAC” (Base Relocation and Closure) facility slated to open this September on Seminary Road in Alexandria off I-395 at the “Mark Winkler site”. At that time, the Garvey campaign specifically pointed its finger at the Alexandria City Council, and particularly at Council member Rob Krupicka – one of her two rivals for the nomination – for not preventing this situation. Personally, I remain confused as to who’s at fault in all this, and feel like I need to take an extra-strength aspirin every time I think about this issue. How about you?

    Press Statement on Mark Center BRAC Facility

    Recently discovered safety concerns and the findings of the Inspector General at the Department of Defense clearly indicate that the opening of the BRAC facility at Mark Center should, at the very least, be delayed. There are simply too many questions over the way in which this project was handled. These concerns involve the safety of Department of Defense employees and those citizens who live near the Mark Center facility, inadequate consideration of transportation demands and difficulties, and disregard for the environmental impact of the project. There is no question at all about the ongoing traffic catastrophe that will be created immediately if this facility is occupied by its 6,400 employees before road improvements are complete.

    I recommend that the following steps be taken:

    1. The Obama Administration should immediately begin an interagency investigation of the Mark Center BRAC facility to determine if safety, transportation and environmental concerns were discounted and even disregarded in the process of approval and construction. If so, something like this should never happen again. The investigation should involve the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department, and the Department of Defense. Until this investigation is completed, plans to transfer employees to this building should be suspended.

    2.    The City Council of Alexandria, the Arlington County Board, and the Fairfax County Board should seek a court injunction to delay opening of the Mark Center BRAC facility until safety, transportation and environmental concerns are adequately addressed.

    3.    The Governor and/or the Virginia Attorney General should seek court action to determine if safety, transportation and environmental concerns were discounted or disregarded in the process of approving construction of the Mark Center BRAC facility. Enormous transportation problems already plague Northern Virginia, and coping with this project will only exacerbate an already very serious situation.

    4.    Community organizations and businesses should seek to file friend of the court briefs in support of the effort to secure an injunction to delay opening of the Mark Center BRAC facility. These could include, for example, the Northern Virginia Community College, Inova Alexandria Hospital, citizen associations, apartment complexes, assisted living communities, condominium associations. All will be affected by the opening of this facility, and all have a right to be heard.

    It is clear that serious safety, transportation, and environmental concerns were likely discounted and disregarded as this project was developed, approved and constructed. Opening this facility will also open the door to continued expenditures of millions of dollars to cope with these concerns, while employees, commuters and residents struggle with their effects.

    I am aware that there are those who will say that the investment is so great that it would be unwise to try to delay opening the building. I disagree. For transportation reasons alone, it is pure folly to charge ahead. With the current situation, let alone during necessary road construction, commuters will face much greater delays in getting to work. Employees at the BRAC building will be scarcely able to get to work. Children will not be able to get to Hammond Middle School. Patients and medical staff will not be able to get to Alexandria Hospital. Those who live near the facility will face enormous difficulties getting to and from home.

    Others will say the law requires the building be occupied. I say we have elected officials and courts for a reason: the law must be changed to allow for sufficient delay to address safety concerns and to put in place reasonable accommodations for the volume of traffic created by this monstrous building.

    Common sense says we should pursue all options to delay the opening of this facility. It is not too late to avoid the abyss that lies ahead.

    Libby Garvey

    • Peter Rousselot

      The record is crystal clear that in 2008, when asked by the Department of Defense for its opinion about two different sites in Alexandria for the BRAC building, the Alexandria City Council foolishly said either site was OK with them, and they expressed no preference for one site over the other. There is a link to this crucial 2008 letter in the first story on this subject which Blue Virginia published several weeks ago, and a link to that earlier Blue Virginia story is contained in today’s post. Rob Krupicka was one of the members of the Alexandria City Council in 2008 when this letter was sent. All of the reasons why the Mark Center site was, in fact, a disastrous choice were evident at the time the Alexandria City Council sent its 2008 letter. Rob Krupicka never spoke up about those reasons at the time. Now that the disastrous nature of this failure has been much more widely publicized, Rob Krupicka and all the other members of the Alexandria City Council are racing to distance themselves from their terrible error in judgment. Rob’s failure is a very legitimate issue in the campaign for the Virginia Senate in District 30. I support Libby Garvey for that nomination, in no small part, because she has courageously pointed out that “the emperor has no clothes”.  

    • Demosthenes

      Oh yes, that’s right. This was the strategy pursued by Patrick Murray in attacking Jim Moran in 2010. Can Ms. Garvey answer for why she never spoke about this “abyss” before she decided to run for State Senate?  

    • was in yesterday’s Alexandria News:

      I never supported putting BRAC at Mark Center. Eisenhower Valley and the Van Dorn Metro was always the obvious location, and I was as shocked and dismayed as everyone in our community when the Department of Defense chose lower cost and poor transportation infrastructure over mass transit availability. And now we have an inspector general report that tells us what we knew — the Army cut corners and avoided working with the local community. We have been misled many times through this process. Now we have to do all we can to slow down the relocation to Mark Center. The Army owes our community time to get the needed road improvements in place. As we near the official opening of the Mark Center BRAC building, the question is what do we do next? Here are seven things that are essential to our ability to move forward.