DoD Slashes Base Sales Price
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
SAN ANTONIO, Mar. 3, 2000 Defense Secretary William S. Cohen received a standing ovation, Mar. 2 for giving Texans a $102.8 million break on the bill for Kelly Air Force Base.
During a speech, he announced the price for the Air Force base dropped from $108 million to $5.2 million. The 250 local officials and members of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce attending the luncheon at the Adams Mark Hotel were pleased.
Formerly, by law, local communities had to buy federal property when a military base closed. A provision of the Fiscal 2000 Defense Authorization Act now allows the department to convey surplus property at no cost if it is used to generate jobs. This applies to property paid for by tax dollars. The community must still purchase properties paid for by user fees, such as NCO and officer clubs, bowling alleys and golf courses. In this case, the cost for such property at Kelly totals $5.2 million.
DoD has also approved no-cost economic development conveyances at Naval Air Station Memphis, Tenn.; March Air Force Base, Calif.; and the Naval Air Warfare Center Indianapolis, Ind. The department is considering requests for about 40 more price reductions.
As a former U.S. senator, Cohen stressed that he understands firsthand what base closures can mean to a community. Closing Kelly Air Force Base, however, was "not the death knell that people predicted," he noted. "It's a starting bell. The Greater Kelly Redevelopment Authority has done a magnificent job." The redevelopment authority is responsible for finding new, civilian uses for the air base.
Reducing the community's debt to the federal government, he said, will help local officials achieve their goal of generating about 21,000 jobs by converting Kelly into an industrial park. About 11,000 jobs were lost when the base closed.
Following his luncheon address, the secretary visited a Lockheed Martin aviation center and a Boeing aerospace support center already established at the former base.
Cohen also toured a new housing complex at nearby Lackland Air Force Base. A total of 420 units are being constructed for enlisted families, E-3 to E-7. The Lackland project is part of DoD’s housing privatization program. The program, approved in 1996, gets private developers to build or renovate military housing. DoD officials believe the program will go a long way toward upgrading DoD housing and eliminating substandard housing.
From San Antonio, Cohen traveled to Fort Hood to tour the Army's Force XXI Brigade's tactical command post and combat information center and witness a live war-fighting exercise between Fort Hood's 4th Infantry Division and the 1st Cavalry Division.