After approving the fiscal year 2024 budget on May 3, the Board of Supervisors then held a Special Meeting on May 24 at which they unanimously voted to accept assignment of a contract to acquire 462 acres of land for $58 million.
Situated north of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, the lands to be purchased by the County surround much of the U.S. Army’s Fort Belvoir sub-installation called Rivanna Station. Currently, the National Ground Intelligence Center, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency have operations there.
In the words of Board Chair Donna Price (an attorney who formerly served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps and who has announced she is not running for re-election to the Board): “By Albemarle County acquiring this property, we protect the security and integrity [antiterrorism/force protection] of the station while simultaneously expanding its capacity for both remaining in Virginia and meeting the growing demand for its national defense work.”
The seller of these undeveloped tracts is Next Generation LLC, owned by local developer Wendell Wood. As I understand it, Rivanna Station Futures, LLC, a brand-new Virginia Domestic Limited-Liability Company established on March 8, 2023, has been set up to facilitate the purchase and development of this property.
The County’s May 24 press release states: “The vision for this acquisition is to solidify the long-term vibrancy of Rivanna Station in Albemarle. This project, Rivanna Station Futures, allows the County to remain attractive to the Station, the anchor for the defense sector in our community, and provides opportunities for private sector and academic partners to take part in shaping the future vibrancy of the sector. A key piece of Rivanna Station Futures is the establishment of an Intelligence Community Innovation Acceleration Campus (ICIAC), a place for public sector organizations, private sector businesses, and academic institutions to work together to co-create solutions to the biggest challenges facing our nation and the world.”
A public hearing on June 21 has been scheduled by the Board to discuss the purchase of this land, which is to be funded through the capital improvements program via issuance of revenue bonds paid back over the coming decades.
I wish for citizens from all walks of life to become informed regarding this major event in the history of the County and to express to their Supervisors their own perspectives regarding the future character and vibrancy of our community.
Questions for the Supervisors that readily come to my mind include the following.
What will be the projected costs to taxpayers to pay back the interest on the monies borrowed; along with the costs of the infrastructure that will need to be built such as roads, water, sewer, schools, etc.; along with salaries of County staff and County contractors that will be hired to run the Rivanna Station Futures project? Will our property taxes be raised to pay for all this?
Do we have a Plan B for this Project in the event the federal intelligence community decides to downscale or relocate out of Albemarle County in the future?
Finally, and more philosophically, what policy choices are compromised and what aspects of our community character are eroded if the largest employment sectors in the County becomes so highly dependent on federal dollars, spent on secret projects that can neither be questioned nor discussed?
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