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Fort Drum advocates prepare response to Army study prior to deadline Monday

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FORT DRUM - With limited time before the Army’s deadline Monday for public comments about potential force reduction, advocates for Fort Drum are compiling materials to state their case.

In addition to mailing their own study response, the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization will forward more than 8,000 letters and petition signatures to the Department of the Army.

“We have lots of pieces to assemble,” said Carl A. McLaughlin, the organization’s executive director.

As of Friday afternoon, the organization reported 2,155 handwritten notes of support, along with 3,459 electronic signatures for a petition it created at www.drum2025.com. Many of the online comments included written additions, which also will be submitted. A separate petition initiated by state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, had an additional 2,712 signatures that would go toward the FDRLO effort.

Several municipalities and private groups are compiling their own efforts, Mr. McLaughlin said.

“It gives us clout,” he said.

Even after the deadline, Mr. McLaughlin said, the organization’s own site will remain up to continue to solicit comments for a planned public comment meeting in the area at some point.

The Army’s study of potential cuts at Fort Drum, along with 29 other installations, showed more than a billion dollars in economic losses and thousands of area job cuts in a worst-case scenario of cutting 16,000 soldier and civilian positions on post by 2020.

The catastrophic numbers in the Army’s report highlighted the need for the large response, Mr. McLaughlin said.

The Fort Drum area is getting stiff competition from supporters of other installations nationwide, which also are reporting high levels of interest.

In one example, a Fort Polk, La., advocacy group has received nearly 4,700 letters of support for the post this year, according to KALB in Louisiana.

The “Save Our Fort” initiative to support Fort Jackson, S.C., has received about 12,300 signatures, according to WIS in Columbia, S.C.

Mr. McLaughlin said he thought the Fort Drum advocacy effort would perform well.

On Friday, the post received more legislative assistance in the form of a letter from all 29 members of New York’s congressional delegation, along with a letter from state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie.

The pair of letters follows an advocacy letter from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that was released Thursday.

Comments about potential reductions at Fort Drum can be submitted by Monday to: U.S. Army Environmental Command, Attn: SPEA Public Comments, 2450 Connell Road (Building 2264), Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664; or by emailing usarmy.jbsa.aec.nepa@mail.mil.

Advocacy letters for Fort Drum released Friday

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