Launching Ideas ... Recovering History
“Life Before and after BRAC”, the second of the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum’s Educational Program series, was a great success. Held at the museum on Sunday afternoon, April 17, 2011, the event was both educational and entertaining.
Former Maryland House Speaker and Circuit Court Judge John Hanson Briscoe was the first to speak. He traced the development of Lexington Park from a high-flying party zone managed through patronage to a respectable business district with the necessary infrastructure to support itself. He credited former State Senator J. Frank Raley, who was in attendance, with having the vision and foresight to transform Lexington Park from a slot machine driven economy to one better founded on a sound business base. He noted the importance of having facilities in place in advance of growth as a valuable lesson learned from previous Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) activities.
Jack Gelrud founded a pharmacy in Lexington Park in 1949. He noted that there were never customers, only friends. He traced the history of the Lexington Park business district as the population exploded as a result of BRAC. He noted that businesses grew up accordingly. He further noted that Lexington Park remains unincorporated which thwarts a controlled building plan. He cited the Leonardtown Hospital as an example of planned growth as needs arose.
Bob Waxman, the recipient of the Secretary of the Navy’s Distinguished Civil Service Award, retired as director of NEASEA. He traced the growth of St, Inigoes as an independent electronics center of excellence for the Navy. He noted that the installation grew through a solid partnership with its support contractors and was able to attract solid business. As BRAC came into play, St. Inigoes was spared the hit because of its vitality. Today, St. Inigoes is a vital part of NAVAIR. Mr. Waxman noted that preparedness is essential to winning business and that this was their formula for success over the years.
Despite the rapid change brought about by BRAC, the panelists felt that there was great potential to further build up the business infrastructure in Lexington Park.