It looks as if the proposed Fort Howard LLC vision of a major development on the grounds of the old Fort Howard Veterans Hospital may have passed with the company’s failure to meet the requirements of the Major Milestone Steps and their Delivery Date as outlined in the project plans and their failure to respond by the due date.
The Major Milestone Steps are a series of projects as outlined in steps A through O and can be viewed by reading the accompanying PDF file listed above.
I contacted the county and spoke to one of the county officials familiar with the project who spoke on the condition of anonymity. I called the county’s department of licenses and permits and asked if any of the Milestone Steps were met by the developers, Fort Howard LLC.
The answer was surprising when it was revealed no word from the company regarding some of these benchmarks which were due by the fourth quarter of 2011. These benchmarks were due as a result of an extension of the process was granted by the VA.
The last blog I wrote on this subject revealed a GAO investigation into the entire VA EUL (Enhanced Use Lease) used to benefit veterans and their medical care, a program not only here in Baltimore, but nationwide as well.
To make matters worse both Congressman Ruppersberger and Senator Mikulski lauded the advancement of the Fort Howard Project while Councilman Olszewski not only did the same but allegedly attending a meeting with the developer and the local union in an attempt to borrow around $10 million dollars as seed money for the project.
I received information about the private meeting involving the developers and union members, verified it through another source and sent an email to the councilman on June 18th, 2012 asking for a comment. I did not receive a response.
Meanwhile in the Eagle article comments from our three public officials led us to believe the project was well on its way to becoming a reality. The sad part, a closer look at the development revealed it was more about a retirement community and less about our veterans care. According to the census figures the Fort Howard area has around 9,500 residents and over 6,000 signatures opposed the development over numerous issues including the most important one, it was not about the veterans
Other articles showed the same disdain of the project's goals which in my opinion was using the veteran’s plight to obtain a large sprawling retirement community that based on price would have excluded many veterans.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. Senator Norman Stone and Delegate Sonny Minnick opposed the project on numerous issues. Councilman Olszewski and county executive representative Bryan Sheppard declined to questions or speak about the development.
The bottom line for me is even if the new short lease is still in effect it should be terminated based on the many of the same reasons of the first failed attempt by a now infamous developer of the original project, Federal Development LLC. The whole concept for the Fort Howard LLC development had more to do with money than the plight of our veterans.
Hopefully the GAO investigation, the embarrassing report of the current treatment of our vets in our own backyard will do more than just annoy our political leaders but will hold them accountable for their actions and force them to uphold their oaths to serve the citizens they represent including our vets.