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Base residents asked to relocate

June 24, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

About 100 families living at the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base have been asked to move to the other side of the base so the Army can look for and remove any buried explosives.

Rich Rook, PenMar Development Corporation executive director, met Wednesday night at the former base with families living on West Rekord Avenue and Mountain Road to discuss the relocation.

PenMar was created by the state in 1997 to redevelop the base, which the Army shut down in 1998. The corporation serves as the tenants' landlord.

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The National Guard, and then the Army, used the post through the 1950s for military munitions training.

Although the hall was packed with residents, none spoke out against moving. The tenants asked questions about the specifics of the relocation.

Rook said the Army will reimburse moving costs and also the costs of having phone lines and cable hooked up in their new apartments.

"We're going to really work hard to make this as easy as possible for the tenants," Rook said.

Rook said the move wasn't mandatory, but told the residents that staying in their current apartments would be unpleasant while the cleanup is taking place.

"If you choose to stay there, it will be unbearable," Rook said.

He said the apartments will have to be evacuated four to five days a week and all the utilities will be turned off.

Removing any unexploded ordnance will take about four months, Rook said.

Other parts of the base have been cleaned up over the last several years.

Those who decide to move will have to be out of their current apartments by Nov. 30.

Beginning in January 2005, the company hired by the Army to do the cleanup will use electromagnetic equipment to look for any metal in the ground, Rook said.

Any unexploded ordnance will be flagged, and Rook said the crews will return to those areas in March 2005 to start digging them out of the ground.

If tenants choose to relocate to the other side of the base without hiring movers, the Army will reimburse tenants going to two-bedroom apartments $925.

Tenants moving to three-bedroom apartments will be reimbursed $1,025, and those moving to four-bedroom apartments will be reimbursed $1,175, Rook said.

If tenants choose to hire movers, the Army will pay that cost, Rook said.

Residents pay rent that range from $650 a month to $800 a month, depending on the size of their apartments.

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