Federal dollars flowing into Fort Hamilton
The federal defense-spending bill that passed Congress earlier this month contains good news for Fort Hamilton.
The Bay Ridge installation, the only Army base in New York City,will benefit to the tune of $3.5 million, with $700,000 in funding going toward the new Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team that will be headquartered there, and will operate under the auspices of the state’s National Guard.
In addition, upwards of $2.8 million was allocated to renovate the Fort Hamilton Community Club, to bring it up to current fire safety standards, as well as to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Representative Michael McMahon, who shepherded the allocations for Fort Hamilton through the House of Representatives, announced the news last week at a press conference held at the fort.
“Even though it has been over eight years since 9/11,” McMahon noted, “concern of another terrorist attack still lingers in the back of every New Yorker’s mind. Having a task force devoted only to the city is a no-brainer.
“The team will respond quickly,” he stressed, “should, God forbid, the unthinkable happen.”
Besides being uniquely qualified to respond to a terrorist attack, the team also would be able to respond to natural disasters, McMahon said, “coordinating with city, state and federal responders.”
Team members will also do proactive work, McMahon went on, “Going out in the community and assessing local facilities for risks, and making our local community safer.”
The work on the community center will be a boon to members of the military, past and present, as well as area residents who attend functions there, McMahon added.
“The physical improvements to the community center have been a long time coming,” he said. “I was happy to get them done in my first budget.”
ADVERTISEMENTAdding an elevator, McMahon went on, is “Something, I think, that the community and our military heroes have been waiting for, for a long time.”
Both projects, McMahon opined, add to the fort’s value not only to the community but the nation, making it less likely that the base would come up on a list of installations proposed for closure at some future date.
“Every time there’s a new investment, it makes it more secure,” McMahon told this paper. “As the only army base in New York City, I think its future is bright.”
The Civil Support Team — a full-time unit with 22 members specializing in responding to chemical, biological or radiological incidents — is the second such unit in New York State, which was among the first 10 states in the nation to have such teams, back in the 1990s.
New York State’s other Civil Support Team is located outside of Albany, because the decision was made, when it was formed, to locate it away from an area that was perceived as a possible attack target.
By Helen Klein