Baltimore Dreamin’

Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon is trying to jump on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) gravy train.

Mayor Sheila Dixon unveiled Baltimore’s plan to attract families moving to the area as the result of the upcoming military Base Realignment and Closure process.

Joined by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown at a news conference on Wednesday at City Hall, Dixon said Baltimore’s new “BRACtion” Plan will seek to improve public transportation and add more affordable housing to lure relocated military families to the city.

“The city of Baltimore is in a unique position to absorb the population moving to Maryland,” Dixon said.

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This is just lunacy. The 2005 BRAC proposal, according to documents produced by the office of Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (does he read the stuff his office produces?) states that BRAC will result in a loss of 228 military positions at Aberdeen Proving Ground as the Ordnance School moves to Fort Lee, Virginia while Fort Meade, Maryland will gain 718 military positions. It needs to be emphasized here that all the military losses to Aberdeen are real while all the gains to Fort Meade are from activities located in the District of Columbia or Northern Virginia. Many of those families already live near to, if not on, Fort Meade.

To top it off, Barbara Mikulski has successfully brought home the bacon in terms of military construction. Fort Meade is gaining 3,170 family housing units and Aberdeen Proving Ground will gain 63 family housing units even as it closes the student barracks.

Essentially Mayor Dixon is unveiling an initiative to attract a maximum of 490 families in the face of an significant base housing construction program that will add over 3,200 family homes to the market.

There is a second, and larger, point here. Contrary to what Mayor Dixon apparently thinks military families aren’t stupid. They can actually read. And most have moved often enough that they are pretty familiar with how to find desirable housing at a new installation. This is much more the case with the people moving to Fort Meade and Aberdeen, mostly officers and senior non-commissioned officers, than what you find at troop installations like Fort Hood, Texas.

The overwhelming majority of these families will have children. What attracts them will not be public transportation. The quality of the school system will decide where these people live so long as the commute isn’t extreme.

And there is also the issue of safety. In this article Mayor Dixon, is challenged on that point:

Asked if the city’s rising homicide rate would deter families from relocating to Baltimore, Dixon said she was confident crime is under control.

“Baltimore is a safe city,” she said.

If one visits today’s Baltimore Sun these are the headlines:
–Two men fatally shot in separate city incidents
–88-year-old cancer patient raped in her home in city

I ask you, would you move your family into Baltimore instead of accepting free housing at Fort Meade or Aberdeen Proving Ground?

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