August 9, 2007
Here in the valley, Fort Benning continues to be one of the biggest influences on both the social and economic landscapes.
Now with an additional 20-30,000 troops coming on post over the next four years, local governments and the military are trying to work together to make that transition smooth for everyone.
"People are very interested about what's going on around post, what is the level of growth, who is moving here, how many people," said Liz Drake, who works for EDAW, the contractor directing the Joint Land Use Study.
Thursday night's meeting focused on the Joint Land Use Study, which looks at the communities directly surrounding Fort Benning.
Residents learned that many Eastern Columbus neighborhoods bordering post will experience slightly higher noise levels and more vibrations due to major training operations.
But citizens worry about more than just noise, and that is where the Regional Growth Impact Study comes in.
"There will be a separate study that has not yet begun that will focus on regional growth, and it will assess the impacts on roads, schools, infrastructure and many other aspects of the local community," said Drake.
Economic planners in the community say these studies are essential in making sure everyone is comfortable with coming changes.
"This is an economic development project of some 11,000 jobs and 2.9 billion dollars in capital investment that will go into this region," said Gary Jones of the Valley Partnership, who is sponsoring the Joint Land Use Study.
There will be six more meetings around the Valley area this month for citizens to hear about the Joint Land Use Study.
Results from the study will be released in October.
Officials at Fort Benning say some construction is already underway to prepare for the influx of soldiers to post.