With a daytime population of 25,200 and an economic impact of $2.6 billion, Fort Knox and its missions are a commodity to be preserved, local officials say.
That’s why the Lincoln Trail Area Development’s Mission Knox has worked with the Department of Defense to identify potential setbacks to communities and the post alike by developing a Compatible Use Plan, District Executive Director Mike Burress said.
“The whole purpose of this Compatible Use Plan is to try to find and identify where there might be some areas of issues, going forward how we might assist in the mitigation of them, policies that might be available and tools for our local communities to use,” he said.
The plan encourages collaboration in planning and development between the U.S. Army installation and the four counties — Hardin, Bullitt, Meade and Nelson — and the communities within them which abut Fort Knox.
“We’re working as a kind of the intermediary on behalf of Fort Knox but also on behalf of our local communities in trying to ensure there’s collaboration amongst the installation and the local communities to ensure the mission of Fort Knox can be as much as it possibly can be,” he said.
The study evaluates a multitude of compatibility issues to physical, noise and light encroachment, environmental impact, and infrastructure issues such as roads, housing and utilities.
“One of the things we’re trying to do with this study is to identify those things that have negative effects, not only on Fort Knox but the local communities,” Burress said. “The key to all this is not only how we can continue to work together, the local communities here in Meade, Hardin, Bullitt and Nelson, but how we can thrive. How we can also ensure that Fort Knox is viable with its missions.”
Burress said Lincoln Trail Area Development District is working as an intermediary on behalf of Fort Knox and local communities to ensure collaboration in planning.
At the table to develop the plan were political and governmental leaders from all four counties affected and representatives from other stakeholder organizations, such as Knox Regional Development Alliance President and CEO Jim Iacocca.
“Where this is really beneficial, it identifies the concerns of encroachment, light encroachment, and noise encroachment and other things that effect military operations on Fort Knox, but also what could affect neighborhoods off of Fort Knox,” he said. “So it’s really an opportunity to hear all sides of an issue.”
Iacocca said developing the plan was an important process for the area.
“It’s important, one, to protect the military capabilities that do exist at Fort Knox to make sure that training areas can still be used, that they don’t pose a risk to any off-post housing, that light encroachment doesn’t impact operations on Fort Knox,” he said. “Then it’s also important for communities off the post to know what’s happening on the post as well.”
Iacocca said, however, this is not government telling people what they can do with their property, but rather a plan to make wise investments.