U.S. Rep. Mike Bost on Monday said he wants the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency to reconsider its decision in locating its future NGA-West Headquarters in north St. Louis.
The second-term congressman sent a letter to NGA Director Robert Cardillo discussing the ongoing problems with the land of the future of the St. Louis location for the spy agency.
The Missouri Attorney General's office has sued developer Paul McKee alleging tax credit fraud. McKee helped acquire the parcels that are planned to be the location of the NGA site.
There also have been concerns that the rubble being removed from the site has caused respiratory issues to nearby children.
"I believe the concerns raised more than justify a reconsideration of the decision to make north St. Louis home of the new NGA-West campus," Bost wrote in the letter. "I again urge you to restrict the use of any federally-appropriated funds on the new NGA-West campus until the full scope of Mr. McKee’s alleged crimes are understood, including any impact they may have had on St. Clair County receiving fair consideration during the site selection process. I respectfully request a meeting with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these serious concerns."
In a statement, Nancy M. Rapavi, a public affairs officer for the NGA, said the agency is committed to its selection of the north St. Louis location.
"NGA conducted a rigorous site selection process to identify and evaluate potential candidate sites for new campus construction," Rapavi said. "Following a review of mission needs, security, cost, environmental analysis, schedule implications, laws, policy, regulations, and executive orders, NGA decided the St. Louis City site is the right choice for its future and the policymakers, warfighters and first responders that depend on the agency's services. NGA remains dedicated to the Next NGA West process and the site selection decision that was made."
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's office couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
The NGA picked the 99-acre north St. Louis location over a location of 182 acres adjacent to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County. Leading up to the 2016 decision both St. Louis and St. Clair County offered free land in an effort to attract the $1.75 billion facility and the 3,100 jobs.
The land next to Scott Air Force Base did not require anyone to move and there was an additional 200 acres to expand.
“I’ve never had a doubt that the land adjacent to Scott Air Force Base was a far superior site for NGA to achieve its mission,” Bost said in a news release. “The decision to award the new campus to north St. Louis never passed the smell test, either in terms of cost or public safety. It now appears our concerns were warranted ... I don’t see how the agency has any choice but to delay construction, as well as reconsider its selection of north St. Louis, amid this cloud of doubt and legal uncertainty. Simply put: St. Clair County should be back on the table for NGA.”
In an interview Monday, Bost said he doesn’t know what the chances are the agency would actually reconsider its decision.
“There are some specific questions I want to ask,” Bost said.“I know if I don’t do my job, my fiduciary responsibility to make sure taxpayer money is spent correctly, which is an oath I took, it’s very difficult to figure out,otherwise we’ll just let it go like this and no one has an answer.”
He referenced the multiple lawsuits over the property and questions on the deed of the property.
“We’ll put all those concerns on the table before the director," Bost said. "I want to look at him eye to eye. When the decision was first made,how much of this stuff did they know. And if they did know, why did they proceed with it. If the didn’t know, why is it they continue to proceed down this path with the problems they see. These are questions I’ve got to ask.”
When would Bost give up?
“Whenever the property is free and clear of lawsuits so we know what we’re looking at and knowing also, the money being invested is not just being thrown to the side," Bost said.
There was a push from the Obama administration to pursue urban renewal.
“Maybe the mission has changed,” Bost said. “Maybe it is their mission should be to make a safe and secure location with a clear deed on the property and make sure there isn’t any fraud that might be in place.”
On Monday, the campaign for St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, the Democrat challenging Bost in November's election in the Illinois 12 Congressional District, called Bost's request "too little too late."
"Where was Mike Bost 18 months ago when this could have made a difference? NGA West should have always been right here at Scott, and Bost, even after his decades in politics and with his friends in power, failed to do anything to make it right,” said Sam Barrett, Kelly's campaign manager. “Nothing has changed except now he has an opponent outworking him, so he sends a letter that’s clearly an attempt to cover for that failure. The communities around Scott AFB deserve someone who is going to fight for them every day, not just when an election gets close."
Bost said his record shows he has fought for the Scott location since he was first elected.
“I’m doing it because I’m the elected official for St. Clair County. I am doing what is right under my fiduciary duty. I’m doing what is right for this nation,” Bost said. “It happens to be in my district. If I wasn’t fighting for my district, there would be a problem. I fought for this in the beginning, I see a problem, I see some concerns that I have and others have expressed.”