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Myths and Rumors.

My usual approach to writing my monthly column is to pick a theme and try to present some important information on that theme in an amusing or at least memorable way. For this month's effort I am going to try something a little different.

I spent a good deal of time walking around the campus and seeing how things are working at the "deckplate" level. I am typically not recognized and so I usually can catch pieces of conversations about Installation operations. I am going to spend a little time talking about some of the frequent misconceptions I hear people discuss about Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB).

Building 17 parking structure use. I have heard a myriad of supposed reasons why parking is restricted in the structure associated with Building 17 and none of them are right. The bottom line is that the Department of Defense has rules about access to parking structures that are located under or a part of a building that has people working or living in it. The concern is that someone could cause significant damage and loss of life by creating an explosion in an enclosed structure under a building. I am required to take certain steps to individually identify anyone parking in such a structure. That makes open/visitor use of that structure essentially impossible. I continue to look for ways to meet DoD requirements and maximally utilize all available parking.

On March 23rd during Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield the Installation will be closed. Not true. We will have enhanced Force Protection procedures in place that will make getting on to the Installation, especially by vehicle, more challenging. If staff personnel who are not on the Mission Essential Personnel rosters show up in measurable numbers on March 23rd traffic getting onto the Installation is going to be VERY challenging. The Medical Center will be in limited clinical operations mode and the University is using technology and other tools to meet its mission while facilitating non-essential staff to work from other locations. The Installation will be open, but we will be using all means available to limit non-Mission Essential traffic that day. Personnel coming in should make every effort to use public transportation if possible, and expect increased delays when entering the installation.

Nobody cares about the parking issues here. This one could not be further from the truth. Every senior leader I engage with cares about the parking challenges here and none of them care more than I do. The problem is that with limited space to put short term parking solutions in place, we are dependent upon big projects like parking structures to help with the issue. . . . Those take time. One of the projects begins early next month, but will require the loss of surface parking to build the structure. We recently asked for suggestions on parking and received over 600 responses. My team is reading every single one of them and my goal is to not only use any suggestions that can be implemented, but also explain the reasoning behind ones that we may not be able to use.

The crossing from the Metro stop to the South Gate is dangerous and no one here seems interested in doing anything about it. It is true that the trip across 355 between the Medical Center Metro stop and the South Gate to NSAB is potentially dangerous. Everyone in leadership understands the problem and we have been working closely with the State of Maryland and Montgomery County, who own the road, to make things better. We worked closely with the State and County on their plans to build a tunnel under 355 to make the trip safe and our efforts helped them obtain about 68 million dollars in funding the make the project happen. The Installation is also helping by providing access to our property during the construction process. Unfortunately, this is another one that will take time. Meanwhile, we are urging the County to repave and remark the crosswalk and implement other safety related measures to improve the crossing while the permanent solution is being implemented. Please continue to use caution and remember that the patient shuttle can be utilized by staff, space permitting. The shuttle operates Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

There are other items of misinformation I hear, but these are the ones that come up the most often and cause the most amount of unhappiness. What these rumors really tell me is that I need to do a better job of communicating with you, my customers. I will continue to conduct town halls, such as the one held yesterday (did you go to the one yesterday?), CO columns, Postmaster announcements and other available outreach efforts, and I am also open to any other ideas on how to better disseminate information. Expect to see me and my team reaching out even more to provide you with the updates you need to assure you your concerns are being heard and that we are working on solutions.

All Ahead Full.

Capt. Frederick (Fritz) Kass

Naval Support Activity Bethesda

Commanding Officer