Tuesday, October 5, 2010


One can look favorably upon Friday's announcement that the parties will remain at the bargaining table for another week, but the Laurelwood housing situation at NWS Earle remains a microcosm of federal red tape, ineffective government and outsource contractors wagging the dog. These issues hopefully will be detailed (and solutions recommended) fully when the Government Accountability Office (GAO) releases its study on the Laurelwood situation, and privatized military housing in general, in late-October.

Until then, we scratch our heads as to why this darned matter is not yet resolved.

To reiterate, NOPE learned late Friday that Laurelwood Homes, LLC, and the Department of Navy have extended the original October 1 deadline to October 8, presumably to agree upon parameters for a buyout and teardown of the 300 fallow "Laurelwood" homes at Naval Weapons Station Earle.  An extension could be good, or bad, depending on the eventual outcome.

Perhaps the delay is in keeping with the DoN's penchant for major Laurelwood news releases; recall, if you will, that the "draft" Laurelwood Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, was issued on Black Friday 2008, and the "final" EIS came out on Good Friday 2009.  Maybe the Pentagon prefers issuing news at times when people have their minds on plans for long-weekend getaways (Columbus Day is observed next Monday).

Perhaps it is a sign that the parties are extremely close on a buyout tally but need another five business days to dot the i's and cross the t's. Or, perhaps the sides are at such loggerheads that another week is a prayer to avoid a protracted and expensive lawsuit by a privatized housing contractor against the federal government.

In all cases, area citizens who remain as baffled as our group by the parties' failure to hammer out a speedy resolution need to be aware of the ultimate outcome of this case.  We certainly will stay on top of it, and can only direct Laurelwood's owner and the DoN to the "buyout summary" put forth by NOPE in November 2008, which offers an independent, equitable buyout and demolition tally that will make this mess go away. 

The gamesmanship has gone far enough already.  Hammer out a deal, and let us move on already.