Metro-East News

Final NGA decision set to be announced this week

The final decision on the location of the $1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters is set to be announced either Thursday or Friday, an NGA spokesman said.

According to spokesman Sam Wilson, the final decision on whether the agency will relocate to North St. Louis or St. Clair County will be announced by NGA Director Robert Cardillo.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said in a statement Wednesday that he other Illinois lawmakers are already pondering their next move if Cardillo upholds his original decision to build NGA West in North St. Louis.

“We've used every tool at our disposal to advance St. Clair County's case and to hold the Army Corps accountable for its sloppy reporting. Objective analysis and pure common sense indicate that NGA should be in Southern Illinois,” said Bost, whose congressional district includes Scott Air Force Base, located next to the proposed county site.

“Once we know Director Cardillo’s final record of decision, we will consider the next steps available.”

For the past two months, Bost has teamed up with St. Clair County leaders and top Illinois lawmakers to reverse the preliminary decision by Cardillo to locate the western campus for the spy agency in North St. Louis near the former Pruitt-Igoe housing complex.

Cardillo and others connected to the NGA have since the March 31 announcement been indicating the original decision will stand, despite mounting evidence that Illinois lawmakers have amassed to show that the Army Corps of Engineers report that guided Cardillo’s initial decision was filled with errors.

At a public forum last Friday, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern accused federal officials of changing the criteria to favor the North St. Louis site.

“We thought we really had a great shot. But the playing field was not level,” Kern said. “There was a thumb on the scale the whole time.”

The NGA, a secretive Defense Department intelligence agency that makes maps based on satellite imagery, announced two years ago it needs a new home for its western headquarters. It is currently housed at the 190-year-old St. Louis Arsenal just south of downtown St. Louis.

The NGA must move because it needs more room to grow and a modern infrastructure, officials have said.

Construction on the NGA site is set to begin in mid-2017 with completion in 2021.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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