Will Scott become the new home for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and its 3,000 jobs?
The answer to that question could hinge on the results of environmental impact studies the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to complete over the next 18 months regarding the six sites, including Scott, in the St. Louis metro region that are finalists to replace the aging NGA facility near downtown St. Louis.
"It's how we would impact the environment going in," said Julia Collins, an NGA spokeswoman.
The Army Corps studies will take into account traffic patterns around the six proposed sites, as well as their existing infrastructure and possible on-site toxic materials, Collins said.
"There is a broad spectrum of things they look at," she said.
The current NGA facilities at 3200 S. 2nd St., in St. Louis are housed in century-old buildings that pose security and safety concerns. The agency expects to move from that location by 2021, according to a news release.
The NGA plans to announce the selection of the new NGA site around mid-2016, Collins said.
The NGA, headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Va., is a combined defense and intelligence agency responsible for collecting, classifying and analyzing human activity around the globe and showing this activity in the form of maps, charts and imagery intelligence.
The NGA has played a key role in a wide range of significant intelligence projects, including the tracking of terrorists' long-distance calls and the mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.
NGA provided Navy SEAL Team Six with a near-perfect replica of the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where Bin Laden was hiding out. The NGA used laser radar and other technology to build a 3D rendering of the compound, which enabled the the SEALs to know how many people lived in the compound and where, helping ensure the mission's ultimate success, according to news accounts.
The NGA has hired the firm Jones, Lang, LaSalle to perform a year-long site location study, which concluded in 2013. The firm drew up a list of new NGA facilities in the St. Louis region. Besides Scott, they include:
* Fenton, Mo., at the home of the shuttered Chrysler auto plant on Interstate-44, west of St. Louis.
*Mehlville, Mo., at the site of the Met Life building on Tesson Ferry Road between Interstate-270 and Route 141, south of St. Louis.
* North County, near Interstate 70 and Hanley Road, outside Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
*North St. Louis city, near the corner of Cass and Jefferson avenues.
* Weldon Spring, Mo., along Interstate 64 near Chesterfield, Mo., northwest of St. Louis.