U.S. Representative Mike Bost (IL-12) is calling for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to reconsider its decision to locate its planned new Next NGA West (N2W) facility in the City of St. Louis, rather than a St. Clair County site just north of Scott Air Force Base.
“St. Clair County should be back on the table for NGA,” Rep. Bost said in a prepared statement.
In a July 9 letter to NGA Director Robert Cardillo expressed concerns about the integrity of the site selection process for NGA’s new western headquarters, amid allegations that a key developer of the chosen North St. Louis site engaged in tax credit fraud and other misdeeds in securing the property.
In his letter, Rep. Bost urges the NGA to restrict the use of any further federal funding for the Next NGA West project until agency administrators can determine whether serious legal action will be pursued against St. Louis site developer Paul McKee.
He also calls on the agency to halt work on the St. Louis site unit ongoing civil or criminal investigations can provide a better understanding of how the alleged tax fraud may have impacted St. Clair County’s ability to receive fair and equal consideration during the site selection process.
In a prepared statement, July 11, the NGA reaffirmed its commitment to the St. Louis site; calling its site-selection process “rigorous” and noting the process and site selection were reviewed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Inspector General, the Department of Defense Inspector General, and the Government Accountability Office.
However, Bost, two days later, reiterated his call to reconsider the North St. Louis site, as ‘the cloud of legal trouble around NGA’s site selection only grows — as does the media attention.”
He predicted St. Louis id entering “a tangle of lawsuits and investigations that may prevent any north St. Louis development for years.” All while the federal government continues to spend money on a site it may ultimately have to abandon, he contends.
The NGA is both a combat support agency under the United States Department of Defense (DOD) and an intelligence agency of the United States Intelligence Community (USIC), with the primary mission of collecting, analyzing, and distributing geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in support of national security.
Its headquarters, also known as the NGA Campus East, is located at Fort Belvoir in Springfield, Virginia; although the agency has along operated major facilities in the St. Louis, with support and liaison offices worldwide.
In addition to using GEOINT for U.S. military and intelligence efforts, the NGA provides assistance during natural and man-made disasters, and security planning for major events such as the Olympic Games.
Described by local business leaders as potentially the largest construction project in the history of the entire St. Louis region — as well as possible basis for a revival of the economically ailing Gateway City — the planned new $1.75 billion Next NGA West facility will be the central data processing point for a planned new worldwide network of data-gather satellites, according to the agency.
It will also replace the NGA’s current, century-old western headquarters in South St. Louis.
A decade-old DOD memorandum, published by the Belleville News Democrat, indicates federal officials always planned to locate the N2W campus at Scott AF, which offers military-grade security and complementary data-gathering operations.
However, procurement regulations required thee NGA to study alternative sites, include a 99-acre tract in St. Louis, proposed by city officials, and locations two in St. Louis County.
The St. Louis tract, just north of downtown, was already part of a planned NorthSide Regeneration Project, proposed by developer McKee.
McKee noted the St. Louis tract was part of a “Promise Zone,” which, under the Obama Administration, was to receive priority in federal site selections.
Surprising many Metro-East leaders, NGA Director Cardillo, on June 2, 2016. signed a Record of Decision naming the St. Louis site as the N2W location.
However, the future of the North St. Louis NGA site has increasingly come into question over recent weeks.
On June 12, St. Louis formally moved to dissolve a 2009 development deal with McKee; citing unpaid taxes and lack of progress at the redevelopment site as promised. A letter from city counselor Julian Bush, gave McKee 30 days to pay all taxes due and begin construction and redevelopment work at the site.
The on June 13, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley filed a lawsuit against McKee’s NorthSide Regeneration LLC, alleging the company kept $4.5 million in state tax credits despite failing to complete the purchase of more than $5 million worth of properties necessary for the project.
“If you planned to build a house and realized it was on unstable ground, you wouldn’t keep building just because you had a blueprint and some two-by-fours. You’d stop construction, review your plans, and consider safer alternatives,” Bost said.
“That’s all I’m asking NGA to do. Are we throwing good money after bad because it’s too inconvenient to do the right thing? The short-term inconvenience of reevaluation is well-worth the long-term cost savings to our taxpayers and, most importantly, ensuring the strength of NGA-West as a national security asset,” he said.
“Clear land, free land, secure land with no legal entanglements awaits next to Scott Air Force Base,” a statement from Rep. Bost’s office adds.
–Rep. Bost: St. Clair County should get NGA site–