NBAF land transfer completed

By The Mercury

Gov. Sam Brownback and members of the state’s Congressional Delegation announced Wednesday the formal transfer of the proposed site of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) to the U.S. Department of Homeland.

The action is considered a key but expected step in the process of actually building the federal research laboratory at the corner of Kimball and Denison. It does not, however, resolve the funding conflicts, which have also held up construction work at the site.

“While there is much more work to be done, signing of the land transfer agreement is a good step forward in securing the future health, wealth and security of the our nation,” Brownback said in announcing the transfer. He said the action “demonstrates DHS’ continued commitment to completing the NBAF in Manhattan.”

DHS announced its selection of the Manhattan site in 2009.

Sen. Pat Roberts said he spoke to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano last week, “and she made clear construction of the Central Utilities Plant should be underway without further delay.” He said he looks forward “to planning a ground breaking in 2013.”

The site consists of approximately 46 acres.

The state has committed $105 million of matching state funds to the NBAF project and $35 million of research funding for transitioning the NBAF mission to Manhattan.

The facility will be tasked with researching and developing countermeasures to animal, human, and zoonotic diseases.  So far the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has invested more than $125 million into site preparation, engineering, design, and site specific risk-assessments.

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp called the announcement “a solid next step toward getting NBAF literally off the ground.

A January 2012 economic impact report estimated that the NBAF will employ approximately 326 permanent workers and support about 757 construction jobs.

It is expected to have a $3.5 billion economic impact on the state in the facility’s first 20 years of use.

Brownback and the federal delegation said they will continue to strongly pursue federal funding of the facility.

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