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Mission Growth Transcript

View each video speaker's biography here.


Many communities across the country are expecting their military populations to grow considerably. This offers great opportunities for community economic development. However, the challenges can be daunting in terms of planning and managing the kinds of larger scale growth required to accommodate thousands of newcomers. Yet communities have mastered these challenges. We present three of them. Bangor, Washington, whose nearby naval base KITSAP became the home port for the first squadron of Trident missile nuclear submarines. Jefferson County, New York, the site of Fort Drum, which became the new home of U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain division and Pulaski County, Missouri, where Fort Leonard Wood expanded to accommodate two new Army training schools. How these communities succeeded, and the lessons they learned along the way serve as models for communities who may be facing similar opportunities and challenges today.

An increase in military activity can challenge a community’s capacity to absorb new residents. Challenges include mobilizing a community to action, creating new housing and schools, building new infrastructure, and managing new growth wisely. (Narrator)

Once it was asked, we knew that we didn’t have a lot of time to plan for the community, plan for the growth. (Bill Mahan)

It doesn’t get dragged out over 20 years, this happens in a couple of years and it’s not going to be delayed. These submarines are going to be coming in a few years, we better be ready for it. (Peter Crane)

Our challenge was to place all of the people coming to Fort Lennerword from Fort McLelan in housing that would serve them well and that would end up being a good investment for the area. (Elizabeth Bax)

They were not going to house the additional troops on post, so we are posed with a fairly daunting task with developing a sizeable amount of housing, having it within the right price range, having it available at the right time and having it planned in the right way. (Larry Sexton)

No housing development had taken place in this community for a very long time prior to this, and candidly we had no structure here, there was no building community and so forth here to really realy upon. (Terrence Roche)

Essentially Fort Drum was a new community being built and the issues getting into and off of the facility and the community growth that would occur around it, and did we have water/sewer/road capacity, and can we provide the services, like health, like emergency services, like social and human services. For the schools, their main question was, where is the population going to be located, is it going to be in my district or not? (Bruce Armstrong)

We actually had two challenges that we were aware of at that time. The first one was how to manage the growth that was going to come with the base. The second was how were would have to pay for the infrastructure acquired from that growth: fire stations, schools, roads, sewer plants, things like that. (Bill Mahan)

In my opinion I think that this was one of the most important reactions to the announcement that the community had and that was to simply organize as a community which included the federal, the state level, the county level, the schools, all of the local governments to organize, to come at the problems and opportunities from a common direction. (Bruce Armstrong)

Dealing with growth challenges requires organizing all of the stakeholders in a community. The key job is to motivate the public, assess likely impacts, create a flexible growth plan, and coordinate its implementation. (Narrator)

In a community where the nearest town was Silverdale, which had one blinking traffic light, you are obviously going to need new roads, and you’re going to need new sewers to accommodate the housing, you’re going to need new schools to accommodate the kids. Someone is going to have to pay for that. (Peter Crane)

It’s critical to get the decision makers involved in the process and we had either the mayor or the city administrator representing the different communities. We had the presiding county commissioner; we had the superintendent of the school district. (Larry Sexton)

We formed an organization under New York state municipal law which was an intergovernmental relations council whose purpose it was to be the single point of contact between the federal state and local governments for all issues concerned with the growth of Fort Drum. We formed a number of task forces of citizens so that everyone who had a concern, an issue, a fear, a problem, some expertise, or good idea, got to bring it to a forum and that processes allowed us to get a real buy in on the decisions that we made. (Terrence Roche)

We really made a point of advertising this process and trying to draw in first the local development community and we also solicited assistance from other neighboring areas that were more populated, that were more likely to have larger home builders. (Elizabeth Bax)

It’s very important to involve the private sector, the people who are going to be the builders and developers, in the processes somehow because those are the guys who are looking at and understanding the markets that are going on and the growth as much as anybody else. (Bruce Armstrong)

The commanding general of our installation and all of his key leaders were actively involved, again, throughout the process. The media was deeply involved in our process. We had the publisher of the newspaper who is a member of the steering council as was the head of the radio and T.V. stations. So they were very much a part of the problem solving and the solution. (Terrence Roche)

You need it to have a central funnel that could speak with one voice and say here is what the impacts are in the community, here are the priorities of those impacts and its more important that we have a school built here than over there. (Peter Crane)

Developing an effective growth management plan requires a careful study of exactly what is needed and where it should be built. (Narrator)

We wanted to save the character of the county and keep the rural nature. We knew if we didn’t pay attention to how the growths occurred then we would lose that. (Bill Mahan)

We looked at what our needs were: housing, infrastructure, public safety, healthcare, all of those areas that we knew were going to be issues and had to be addressed in terms of growth. (Terrence Roche)

The county did not have any planning and zoning, some of the cities did have spotty building codes enforced here and there. The Office of Economic Adjustment grant made it possible for the RCGA to contract with a very well known national consulting group. They were highly effective in terms of working with the group to pull together a very highly utilized, concise growth management plan. (Elizabeth Bax)

The growth management plan was critical to our effort. We had a document that was very credible that we could issue to developers. They use that document to base their housing development, what price range of homes they needed to construct, the number, be it single family, multi-family, and of course the commercial development; they wanted to be convinced this was really going to happen. (Larry Sexton)

Once it was determined where the housing would go, we developed formulas to try to help the schools as best as we could in estimating the numbers of students that we would acquire. That, of course, had to be translated into construction as well as faculty and all aspects of the school. (Terrence Roche)

Once you know where you’re going to accommodate both population growth and other spin-off growth, commercial growth, that begins to give you a better handle on not only where your expenditures need to go but where revenue may come from also. (Bruce Armstrong)

Managing growth requires capital funding arrangements. Both local and other financial interests will depend on a carefully prepared growth management strategy. (Narrator)

The local political leaders certainly recognize that we did not have the tax structure that could allow for expanding roads, schools, and water systems, all that you needed to accommodate the thousands of people that were going to be coming in a very short period of time. The Office of Economic Adjustment, they were fantastic for us. They really were the liaison with different federal agencies. They got us the plan and grants. They were the ones who worked with virtually on a daily basis; I worked with the OEA staff. (Peter Crane)

The state of Missouri really stepped up in terms of financing and encouraging, giving us the final oomph to kind of move things over the edge to land development where it needed to be in the county and to make things happen really quickly. A developer would come to us with a housing or subdivision plan. We would approve that; that would trigger the availability of incentives from the state of Missouri. There were also infrastructure grants to help place the necessary water and sewer lines in the area, to help build roads, things of that nature. (Elizabeth Bax)

The state came to the forefront and created a development authority to work within the area. They had the capacity through binding and other financial mechanisms and actually putting a larger part of infrastructure in the ground for us. The state’s Department of Transportation was also very active in making improvements to the state highway system. (Bruce Armstrong)

Here at Fort Leonard where the military wasn’t afraid of going up with their community partners to the state level, and not lobby the state but help explain the importance of local initiatives and whatnot to soldier welfare and soldier’s family’s welfare. That uniform up at the state level was very appreciated, it was listened to and it really helped them to understand the criticality of what we were trying to do down here. (Ron Selfors)

We used all types of financing, revenue bonds, general obligation bonds from the county and state government. (Peter Crane)

These are thriving communities because they’ve mastered challenges and maintained a steady focus on what matters most. Providing adequate healthcare and education facilities, housing and infrastructure to accommodate expanding community needs.

From a population of about 95,000 before the arrival of Trident submarines, KITSAP County, Washington has grown to about 225,000. Jefferson County, once among New York’s slowest growing counties, became one of the state’s fastest growing counties, completing 130 new buildings, 35 miles of new roads and over 4,000 new family housing units. Today, the development base is so strong the county is confidently preparing to welcome thousands of additional troops and their families as Fort Drum’s 10th Mountain Division adds a new brigade to its ranks. Pulaski County’s population grew, with school enrollment increasing 12%. Another part of the story here is how growth related to Fort Leonard-Wood has spurred development in nearby communities, such as Saint Robert, as well as benefiting the entire region.

None of these communities had previous experience with large scale growth, yet through leadership and organization, the involvement of business, government, and private citizens, careful planning, building partnerships, leveraging resources and fostering creativity, they not only met their immediate needs, but put in place systems for community development that will enable them to shape their futures for decades to come. (Narrator)

It’s important that you have a strong partnership with you military, if you form a new organization you need to have a good, or excellent, executive director to run that organization, someone who is task oriented, not someone who shuffles papers. You need to have you municipalities, both local, county, and state government involved, and lastly then you’ve got to communicate, and communicate, and communicate. (Larry Sexton)

There needs to be someone taking the lead and communities must support that person taking the lead. Compromise, give up a little bit because the greater good is what you should be focused on. (Peter Crane)

That cooperation, that trust, that ability to work together at mutual respect, is something that doesn’t occur overnight. It’s something that is build upon, for example, social opportunities between the communities and the military. We have a number of those each year that helps enforce that bonding between the communities and the installation. It really comes from rolling up the sleeves and getting in together and sharing a common vision, common goals and objectives. (Ron Selfors)

It was kind of a magic moment in time where everyone literally worked together and spoke to their constituencies, brought them along and made it move forward. (Elizabeth Bax)

Biography

Bruce Armstrong

Director of Planning
Jefferson County, NY

Elizabeth Bax

Manager, Business Recruitment
Pulaski County, MO

Peter Crane

Former Trident Community, Impact Coordinator
Bangor, WA

Bill Mahan

Former Commissioner
Kitsap County, WA

Terrence Roche

Executive Director, Fort Drum Security Council
Jefferson County, NY

Ron Selfors

Director, FLW Regional, Commerce & Growth Association
Pulaski County, MO

Larry Sexton

President, FLW, Regional Commerce & Growth Association
Pulaski County, MO