You try not to let yourself think something is a sure bet. But let me tell you, I was sure St. Clair County was going to be announced as the new home of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency last week. I learned Thursday afternoon that nothing is a sure bet.
Prior to Thursday I had a few folks tell me they thought it was going to go to St. Louis, but I have to admit that I dismissed those thoughts. How could the NGA and federal government completely ignore common sense so much as to place the new facility across the river when everything they need is being handed to them on a silver platter 400-yards away from the military base they need to work so closely with?
St. Clair County offered up all of the land. Illinois offered millions in infrastructure improvements. NGA would have all of the land they could ever need going forward. I’ve been told the NGA needs to run an information line from Scott Air Force Base to their new facility. Wouldn’t it be easy to run a line from the base to a building 400-yards away in a neighboring field than to run it under the Mississippi River and into North St. Louis?
For what its worth I think the leaders in St. Clair County and Illinois did all they could to attract the NGA to Scott Air Force Base. They put together a very attractive package and I can’t imagine anything else they could have done at this time to make this go their way.
But what I didn’t know was that North St. Louis had been declared a Promise Zone by President Obama. It’s a blighted area that the President has decided to throw our tax dollars at to clean up and enhance. Evidently the NGA is in the urban renewal business as well as mapping and spying. Who knew?
The bottom line is that the NGA and federal government chose to spend millions of our tax dollars to put a highly sensitive facility in the middle of a blighted, crime ridden area than to put it where it actually makes sense. Hopefully the NGA will come to its senses before the decision is finalized and we can all look back at this and laugh.
I, along with everyone I’ve spoken to about this, couldn’t be more disappointed. But one thing we aren’t is surprised. After all, when has anyone accused government of having any common sense?