There are four days left for community members and business leaders to comment on keeping the newly converted 16th Armored Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Carson. The Army’s public comment period closes April 29.

It’s been almost a month since the Army released a Programmatic Environmental Assessment regarding the planned conversion of the existing 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at Fort Carson to the new 16th Armored Brigade Combat Team, and community, city and state leaders have rallied to urge the Secretary of the Army to keep the new ABCT at the Mountain Post.

Fort Carson is one of five locations being considered to station the new ABCT. The others are Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kan.; and Fort Stewart, Ga.

“If the ABCT is stationed at another Army installation, Fort Carson would lose approximately 4,000 soldiers and 6,000 family members from the Front Range Community,” Brandy Gill, chief of media relations at Fort Carson’s Garrison Public Affairs, said in an email. “That would be a loss of 16 percent of the current Fort Carson population and would result in an annual economic loss of approximately $336 million to the local and state economies.

“The Army Environmental Command has stated that keeping the brigade at Fort Carson after its conversion would be the best, most cost-effective solution,” she added. “It is also the best option for Fort Carson and our neighboring communities.”

Rich Burchfield, chief defense development officer with the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC, said the chamber is encouraging members of the public to express their support for stationing the ABCT at Fort Carson.

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“If we lose this opportunity — meaning we don’t get the conversion — the infantry brigade is going to go away,” he said. “And I think that’s something we want our local community to understand, because now you really look at that dollar figure and, more importantly, the soldiers and their families. That’s over 10,000 people who in a short period of time will be pulled out of our community. … This will happen pretty quick and we would, as a community, feel that.”

Burchfield said the entire Colorado delegation had sent a letter to Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, urging him to stand up the ABCT at Fort Carson.

“Converting the existing unit at Fort Carson is the most cost-effective way to stand up the new unit,” the letter says in part. “This course is the only alternative that does not require either new construction or significant renovation and relocation.”

Cathy Kropp, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Army Environmental Command, said the date for a decision will be set after all public comments are reviewed and an environmental assessment is completed.

The assessment and a draft ‘finding of no significant impact’ was made available for public comment March 30. All interested members of the public, federally recognized Indian Tribes, federal, state, and local agencies are invited to review and provide comments. Read the assessment and draft finding at https://aec.army.mil/index.php?cID=352.

Public comments will be accepted at usarmy.jbsa.aec.nepa@mail.mil or write to U.S. Army Environmental Command, ATTN: Public Comments, 2450 Connell Road (Building 2264), Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664.

The Business Journal’s covered what the change could mean for Colorado Springs in its April 13 edition.