EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — A plan to construct a National Guard Readiness Center in East Greenwich received a big boost Friday from the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who sits on the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, helped push the $74.9 billion fiscal year 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill through.
The legislation, which was approved by an 89 to 8 vote in the Senate, includes $20 million to build a new, state-of-the-art headquarters building at Camp Fogarty that would house both the Rhode Island Army and Air National Guards.
“That is going to make the Guard more efficient, more effective,” Reed said Friday. “It allows them to not only have better space, but also more secure space. It will mean jobs in Rhode Island.”
The 80,000-square foot facility’s impact on construction jobs is expected to be significant. According to the governor’s office, the current Guard and Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Cranston is too small. The new building will feature space for training, logistics, equipment, and classrooms.
Gov. Gina Raimondo’s fiscal year 2017 capital budget recommends $32 million for the project, meaning two-thirds would be funded by the federal government and the state would foot the rest of the bill.
The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a funding bill of its own, which now has to be merged with the Senate version.
Sen. Reed expects the Rhode Island money to hold its form through that process.
“Non-controversial, completely vetted by the Department of Defense and the appropriate legislative bodies,” he added.
According to Raimondo’s budget, a construction contract should be awarded in January.