Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008

The other Bethesda military base

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A second Bethesda military base near the Potomac River is scheduled to close as the expansion of the National Naval Medical Center transforms downtown Bethesda.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on Sangamore Road will leave its Bethesda headquarters by 2011 and move to new offices at Fort Belvoir, Va., as mandated by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure federal decision.

The agency’s 60 acres holds 1 million square feet of building space. The Army will control the Bethesda property after the agency moves to Virginia. The Army has not yet released an Environmental Impact Statement detailing how the closure will affect nearby residents and businesses.

Fewer than 100 of the agency’s employees live in Bethesda, Chevy Chase or Potomac, according to Susan H. Meisner, spokeswoman for the agency. More than 2,800 employees will transfer from Bethesda to the new base in Virginia. Whether those employees would relocate their residences is ‘‘hard to pin down” based on two BRAC-related personnel surveys, Meisner said.

‘‘I’m an affected employee, and I don’t know if I’ll move,” she said. Meisner does not live in Bethesda.

The agency — formerly named the National Imagery and Mapping Agency — is responsible for mapping, charting and analyzing images of the world for use in national security. It works on military and civilian projects, including natural disaster support.