Old Farm Gate at Fort Detrick

The Old Farm gate for Fort Detrick off Rosemont Avenue shown in a 2015 file photo.

Fort Detrick’s Old Farm Gate, located near the Food Lion on Yellow Springs Road, will close indefinitely starting Oct. 1, the U.S. Army Garrison announced in a Facebook post last week.

Closing the gate was one of many difficult decisions that garrison and U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command leaders have had to make as the 2021 fiscal year comes to an end, garrison spokeswoman Lanessa Hill wrote in an email to The Frederick News-Post. The Army’s budget request for the upcoming fiscal year is $173 billion, $3.6 billion less than the previous fiscal year, Hill wrote.

“With the resources provided, Army leaders made deliberate decisions to fund the highest priority requirements supporting people initiatives, readiness goals and modernization efforts,” she wrote. “Here at Fort Detrick we had to do the best we could with what we have and still focus on Army priorities.”

Nallin Farm Gate, located off of Opossumtown Pike, will remain open 24/7, including on holidays. Starting Oct. 1, Veteran’s Gate will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends. It will be closed on holidays.

The decision to extend the hours of Veteran’s Gate was made because more cars enter Fort Detrick from this gate than the other two combined, even with its limited hours, Hill wrote. Veteran’s Gate also allows for the queuing of more incoming vehicles than Old Farm Gate, Hill added, which allows the base to better manage traffic that could potentially back up onto streets outside the gates during peak traffic hours.

On Facebook, many posted critical comments on the garrison’s gate closure announcement. Some pointed out that Old Farm Gate is the one located the closest to family housing on the base and the one many parents use to take their children to school. Others worried the decision to close the gate, coupled with the decision to extend the hours at Veteran’s Gate, will worsen traffic patterns along Seventh Street, a two-lane roadway where the speed limit is 25 mph.

Samantha and Jeremy Balzan have lived on Fort Detrick for about four years. Considering Old Farm Gate’s close proximity to their house, it’s the entrance they use the most — and the one their children’s school bus currently uses to take them to the nearby Whittier Elementary School.

After the gate closes, the Balzans will have to drive across the base to use the Veteran’s or Nallin Farm entrances. It will be especially frustrating for people who live on the base and want to visit the shopping plaza across the street from Old Farm Gate, the Balzans said, and for Samantha Balzan when she has to drive to her children’s school, which is located less than 2 miles away from the Food Lion.

“It’s just a lot of detouring and unnecessary inconveniences,” Samantha Balzan said, later adding, “Everybody we know here uses that gate. Everybody.”

The Balzans’ children will also have to start crossing the street to catch the bus, which will be coming from the opposite direction it is now. They’ll have to wait on an unfinished sidewalk or in parking spots in front of a nearby stop sign. The couple worries the change will add 15 to 30 minutes to their children’s bus route.

“My children would normally get home around 4 o’clock. They’re probably now coming home around 4:30 or later,” Samantha said. That’s a very long day for them, she said, especially considering one is a kindergartner and the other is a first grader. They’ll also have to be wearing masks the whole time, she and her husband added.

Fort Detrick’s child and youth services liaison officer is working with the county’s public school system to reroute buses that previously used the Old Farm Gate and to address any concerns they may have, Hill wrote.

She added that the Emergency Operations Division on the base was fully consulted during the decision-making process to close the gate. The division has the ability and emergency management plans in place to open Old Farm Gate in case of emergency or evacuation, she wrote.

To account for budget restraints in the upcoming fiscal year, Fort Detrick is also streamlining its contracting process, only opening its outdoor pool on weekends and federal holidays, revising its landscaping and grass-cutting services and reducing janitorial services, Hill wrote.

Follow Angela Roberts on Twitter:

@24_angier.

(10) comments

knahs25

For those of us who used the Rosemont Gate, we had to deal with the closure and switched to 7th Street. For the millions of dollars spent on the Old Farm Gate, it was so poorly designed for exiting vehicles when only 3 vehicles could get in the left turn lane at one time, making exiting the base taking a lot longer than it should if the gate had been properly designed.

V046682030

All the money spent on this gate alone is criminal. What a waste of taxpayers money. So now we're back to using 7th street that was to be reduced to only placarded vehicles and to ease the backup. The gate at Old Farm was built to take all traffic from 7th street and the other closed gate at Montavue lane traffic light. What a waste🙈🙉🙊

anInterestedPerson

The City of Frederick, Fredrick County, and the State of Maryland have NO control over what Fort Detrick does. Fort Detrick is Federal Property.

TrekMan

When I lived on Ft. Detrick we had one gate - 7th street. The back gate into Cloverhill was always unlocked though. That was it. Think about that.

Greg F

Wow...talk about heads up rear ends. Gonna be a disaster for traffic and the businesses off that gate, with more funneled out other gates causing backups, delays and increased crashes as a result. Way to go. So glad I am not on base any longer. Worked on another base not far that took almost 25 minutes to go a half mile to get off base. Sounds like this is going to happen here now.

niceund

This is absolutely unconscionable. Where are City of Frederick officials? Keeping the 7th St gate open over the Old Farm gate will make traffic flowing on 7th St and the adjoining neighborhoods impossible. Ft Detrick has sunk to the lowest depths of being a "good" neighbor and the city could care less. Good luck to the residents in that neighborhood. If you don't raise your voices your city officials will let you drown in more traffic and backups. Interesting that the current mayor resides in that area. Still more proof that he needs to go.

threecents

So they will have three of their five gates closed. They were planning on shutting the 7th St gate, but got so much flack about that, especially because it is the one that the city built bike lanes for, and it is the best one for going to lunch and shopping.

Dwasserba

The city doesn’t control what happens at Fort Detrick. This is happening because of a funding cut to the fort. “Where the mayor lives” will indeed be inconvenienced, why that’s “interesting” or is “proof he needs to go,” please, do elaborate further.

threecents

[thumbup]DW

mwjr58

Something tells me that behind closed doors this is a plan motivated to create a lot of uproar on the base so that the uproar might cause funds to be restored. Considering the billions of $$$ being discussed I cannot imagine that even at most a few million to keep the get open really is significant but the pain and outrage it will cause will be a good tool to get more money back to pay for other things that really should be cut.

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