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Deal will allow Letterkenny expansion

January 27, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - An agreement was finalized this week between the Army and the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority (LIDA) that will allow future expansion of Letterkenny Army Depot onto 225 acres of land that was to have been turned over to the authority.

Joseph Whitaker, the assistant deputy secretary of the Army for Installations and Housing, on Monday signed the agreement, which modifies a 1998 agreement between the Army and LIDA, said Mark Sheffield, depot chief of staff.

That old agreement was reached after the 1995 decision by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission to transfer missions out of the depot. The Army declared 1,462 acres as excess property, and the authority was created to take it over for civilian development.

While 761 acres have been transferred to LIDA, the 225 acres covered in the new agreement had not, Sheffield said.

"It was government property, this still is government property and will remain government property," Sheffield said. "They are going to get 225 acres less in the future than in the original agreement."

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U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster said Friday the agreement will allow expansion of the depot and potentially protect it from future BRAC cuts. The depot is Franklin County's largest employer with about 2,800 federal and contract workers, according to depot spokesman Alan Loessy.

"If this supports Letterkenny, that's good for us. One of our five goals is to support Letterkenny's mission," said John Van Horn, LIDA executive director. While it is less land for LIDA to market for the Cumberland Valley Business Park, the agreement provides opportunities for businesses there to work in partnership with the depot, he said.

Some of the land, which includes a vehicle test track, also is needed by the Army to expand security zones around existing facilities, Van Horn said. LIDA signed the agreement in December, he said.

Plans for the land include a new headquarters building, fire hall, three maintenance buildings, a day-care center and a public works building, Sheffield said.

One of the maintenance buildings could be used for an expanded generator repair mission, Sheffield said. Another could be used for the depot's Force Provider repair and refurbishing mission, he said.

"When you show up and want to build a city, it's there," Sheffield said of Force Provider.

The third building would be used for expanded depot workload in the future, Sheffield said. The public works building would support carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other workers needed to keep the depot functioning, along with a motor pool, he said.

Sheffield said there are no construction schedules or dollar figures as yet for the proposed projects.

Van Horn said all of the depot buildings turned over to LIDA have been sold, but it still is marketing raw land for industrial development. The business park, created to replace the hundreds of jobs lost after 1995, now has more than 40 businesses employing more than 1,000 people, he said.

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