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(Enlarge) Col. Edward C. Rothstein, Garrison Commander

Last week, the focus of my column was about Fort Meade's growing footprint and my efforts to reach out to our partners outside the gate.

I try to use my public speaking engagements as a tool to spark discussions with neighbors on and off the post, about how they can help us and how we can support their initiatives. Our neighbors are receptive to the idea of supporting Fort Meade for many reasons.

Fort Meade growth beyond BRAC is good news for our neighbors. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta specifically mentioned the importance of cyber defense in his recent press conference in which he outlined billions of dollars in cuts to defense spending.

Fort Meade's support of the U.S. Cyber Command and its joint services (Army Cyber, Air Force Cyber, the Tenth Fleet Navy Cyber and Marine Corps Cyber Command) will play a vital role in the future of our nation's defense. Our neighbors know the cyber commands mean stability of jobs in the region and continued economic growth.

Just as it is important to communicate with our neighbors, it's important to me to keep the post community aware of what's happening at Fort Meade. Every other month, I meet with Fort Meade's community council, a group of leaders from our local community organizations and family readiness groups. The garrison command also hosts a bimonthly luncheon for installation partner commanders including senior enlisted leaders from units across Fort Meade.

On Jan. 26, I met with both of these groups. In addition to sharing information about upcoming activities on post, we had a frank discussion about some issues Fort Meade will face as we look ahead to future construction and roadwork projects.

A bit of good news is that this summer we break ground on a new state-of-the-art Post Exchange. The bad news is parking. The new PX is being built adjacent to the old PX, and construction will take up much of the existing parking lot currently used by shoppers.

We are exploring a number of solutions to deal with the parking issue, but trust me. I know the parking problem will be inconvenient and make shopping at the PX and commissary difficult throughout the construction period.

As difficult as it may be, in the end we will have a fantastic new shopping center. Still, I wanted to share this news with post leaders now so we can have an opportunity to discuss the issue and prepare for the challenges it will bring.

We also discussed another one of the realities of our expanding footprint -- the additional space on the installation required for construction of buildings for the Nation Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

As many of you already know, supporting the expansion of these agencies will result in the installation losing the remainder of its golf course. We lost nine holes of the course to BRAC construction, and it's expected we will lose the remaining 27 holes later this year.

Currently, the golf course is scheduled to be available to the post community through September. However, this date could change, and the golf course may close sooner than we had originally anticipated. We are working on agreements with our partners outside the gate to allow the post's golf community to play on county courses at the rates they currently pay.

Working with county golf courses on behalf of our patrons is a good example of how partnership with organizations outside the gates can help Fort Meade. My goal is to continue to find ways to leverage those partnerships to provide quality service to our military community.

The golf agreements and other off-post services will be a part of our strategy of providing needed services and resources to service members in light of DoD-directed budget reductions.

My goal as garrison commander is to be as transparent as possible. I want folks to know I'm concerned about how the installation will continue to support our growing footprint and I'm ready to listen to your comments and suggestions.

I will continue to make my communications about these efforts a priority. I urge you to share your thoughts about Fort Meade's expanding footprint with me, the garrison command and members of the post community.

In closing, I want to encourage service members and civilian employees to participate in tonight's Right Arm Night at Club Meade. The event is a great way to relax, build camaraderie and spend time with your co-workers while enjoying the free food, music and prizes.

And now that Super Bowl week is finally here, you know I am anxiously awaiting Sunday's kickoff. With two great coaches, two great quarterbacks, it should be a great game. Hopefully, it will end the same way it did the last time they met in a Super Bowl.

Go Giants!

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