Fort Hamilton has been an important part of the Brooklyn community for almost two centuries. That is why when I heard that the Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division was thinking of moving its personnel from Brooklyn to a costly space in Manhattan — making the base more susceptible to closure — I put up a fight. Fortunately, it appears we have won this battle and are now ready to move on to the next challenge to strengthen both the base and the services Fort Hamilton provides for the city. There’s no doubt in my mind that a fight for Fort Hamilton is one worth fighting.
First, Fort Hamilton plays an important role in the security of the city. As the city’s only active military base, its location is key to preventing and providing immediate support in the event of a terrorist attack. The simple truth is that New York City remains the number one terrorist target in America, so keeping Fort Hamilton strong is crucial to the safety and security of all New Yorkers.
Second, Fort Hamilton is essential to America’s military processing and recruitment efforts. As the nation’s second largest Military Entrance Processing Station, it handles approximately 16,000 new recruits per year. Without Fort Hamilton, those seeking to join our nation’s Armed Forces would have to travel to West Point or New Jersey’s Fort Dix. For many who rely solely on public transportation to move around the city, this can be costly or simply not feasible. Keeping Fort Hamilton alive is essential to the city’s active duty personnel and military recruits.
Finally, Fort Hamilton has been a vital part of the Brooklyn community for generations. This unbreakable bond between the fort and the surrounding communities will be recognized next month when community and fort leaders gather to sign the Army Community Covenant.
Given Fort Hamilton’s importance to New York and our victory in overturning plans to relocate the Army Corps of Engineers out of Brooklyn, we now have a great opportunity to strengthen the base. Last week, I announced my support for the establishment of an interagency facility at Fort Hamilton. The concept, developed by the leadership at Fort Hamilton, would establish a new facility at the base that would host employees from a variety of agencies currently located in Manhattan, most with a focus on law enforcement and counterterrorism.
The interagency plan could add several thousand new jobs in Brooklyn’s Fort Hamilton, bringing in personnel from an array of federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the FBI, Homeland Security and FEMA. This plan will also improve security for everyone throughout the city, and will save taxpayer funds in the long run by reducing the amount the federal government pays for renting Manhattan office space.
Looking ahead, I envision Fort Hamilton’s importance to our borough and city will continue to grow — bringing new jobs to Brooklyn and serving as a vital hub for the men and women who work every day to protect our great city and nation. There is still a lot of work ahead of us in this process, but rest assured I will keep fighting for Fort Hamilton and do everything in my power to make this plan a reality.
Rep. Michael Grimm represents New York’s 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Bay Ridge.
©2011 Community News Group
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