Jeff Ricketson, director of the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership, told partnership committee members Tuesday that the four-county organization will move ahead in preparing for expected growth on post.
"We’re under way with our regional planning project," Ricketson said.
The partnership, which includes representatives from Liberty, Long, Bryan and Tattnall counties and the region’s cities, met Tuesday afternoon at the Liberty County Annex in Hinesville.
Since the Department of Defense announced in June that a 10,000-soldier 5th brigade combat team would not be coming to Fort Stewart, Ricketson said, the partnership has been assessing the economic impact this turn of events has had on the community. Many developers made heavy financial investments in anticipation of the brigade’s arrival, and some may be eligible to receive reimbursement, he said.
"We are trying to quantify how much money has been spent," Ricketson said.The growth management partnership’s technical task force, which has been assessing the economic impact on the community, will be conducting interviews with area residents this week and should have a progress report ready to present to the group at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 22.
Ricketson said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., has been supportive of the partnership and is trying to get financial assistance for those in the area who made sizable financial investments in anticipation of the brigade’s arrival.
Relief in the form of $75 million has been proposed, but has not yet been approved by Congress.
"We still anticipate positive growth at Fort Stewart," Ricketson said. "We’ve been told that about 1,150 soldiers are projected to come to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield between now and 2013."
Ricketson said that although not as many soldiers will be coming to the region, the partnership can still accommodate those soldiers who are expected to arrive. Most of these soldiers will likely be coming from Europe, he said.
Ricketson told the partnership that staff hopes to launch a Web site for the partnership by Sept. 15. Sean Martin, the organization’s assistant director, said staff members hope to obtain the rights to the domain name Fort Stewart Regional Growth Plan, but the domain name hasn’t been secured.
"We’re trying to maximize public awareness," Ricketson told partnership committee members. "We’re going to try to be as transparent and open as we can."
Other members of the partnership shared news about upcoming events with fellow committee members.
Bill Jeffers, who represented Fort Stewart at the meeting, said all the construction projects on Fort Stewart that were started in anticipation of the 5th BCT’s arrival will be completed.
Jeffers added that U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Sen. Johnny Isakson plan to visit Fort Stewart on Aug. 31. The two senators will hold a news conference at noon Monday, Aug. 31, at MidCoast Regional Airport at Wright Army Airfield.
Tricia Reynolds, of the Coastal Regional Commission, told the partnership that a workshop on forest and farmland conservation will be held from 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Coastal Electric Cooperative in Midway.
The event, Reynolds said, is in support of the Joint Land Use Study.
"Our study is specifically tuned into making sure development that is adjacent to (Fort Stewart) is compatible," she said.