Rushing to meet a Monday deadline for public feedback, Fort Drum advocates are compiling residents’ messages of support to persuade the Army to avoid major cuts, which they say would devastate the region’s economy.
In addition to mailing its own response to the Army study of potential cuts, released in June, 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.
The Army’s worst-case scenario of cutting 16,000 soldier and civilian positions at Fort Drum by 2020, along with large cuts at 29 other installations, showed about $1.6 billion in economic losses for the north country and thousands of indirect job cuts.
As of Friday afternoon, the organization reported receiving 2,155 handwritten notes, along with 3,459 electronic signatures for its online petition at www.drum2025.com. A separate initiative from state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, contains 2,712 signatures that will be added to the FDRLO petition.
Several municipalities and private groups are compiling their own efforts, Mr. McLaughlin said.
“It gives us clout,” he said.
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, with other media reports showing 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.
Even after Monday’s deadline, Mr. McLaughlin said, the FDRLO’s site will continue to solicit comments for a planned public comment meeting in the area in the future.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.