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News Release


Release No: 416-95
August 07, 1995


Secretary of Defense William J. Perry today emphasized that the Department of Defense is ready with tools to help speed economic recovery for communities on the 1995 base closure list.
"Closing bases is painful," said Perry. "We do it because we must. But, we also make sure that we take every possible step to encourage rapid reuse. Two years ago, the President personally charged us to develop faster and more effective programs for job creation on former bases, and for job training and placement of our employees. And we are doing so. The Department is making every effort to help communities find productive reuse for these assets."

The resources DoD has to assist communities include:

  • Grants for Base Reuse Planning and Technical Assistance

  • On-site Base Transition Coordinators

  • Job Training Referral and Placement for Federal Workers

  • A New Community Guide to Base Reuse Handbook.

In addition to the above listed tools, DOD has also improved the process by which bases are reused. The Department has developed new rules and guidance that provides for more community input into decisions. The rules clarify methods for real estate transfers, leasing and conveyances of personal property and equipment to local communities.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Economic Security Joshua Gotbaum said, "Many communities have achieved successful reuse following base closure. Today, we have replaced 60 percent of civilian jobs at bases that have been closed for one year. In some cases, the base has become the engine of economic growth for the local community."


Perry and Gotbaum point out that job creation is the first priority of base reuse But, they emphasize, it can take many forms. New uses include airports, schools, parks, and other governmental offices, either federal, state or local. Such uses reduce government costs at all levels and provide stability for redevelopment.

Successful reuse of a military base depends upon a few key elements, according to Gotbaum. Experience shows that communities need strong, unified local leadership to reach consensus on a plan for the facility. They should also begin planning early. Most communities start even before the Congressional deadline passes and the closure list becomes effective. The closure list, which was accepted by the President and sent to Congress on July 13, becomes law unless disapproved by both Houses of Congress within 45 legislative days. Abase closure list has never been disapproved by Congress.

Communities need to provide investment and early involvement of the private sector, explained Gotbaum. Former bases need a great deal of infrastructure investment to turn into modern productive facilities. Communities must understand that federal resources are limited. Partnerships between all levels of government and the private sector must be made to leverage these potentially valuable assets. Marketing the facilities in the private market enables properties to be quickly put on the local tax rolls to vie for limited public dollars.

(Attached are a detailed explanation of support available to communities, a list of base transition coordinators, and examples of base reuse success stories Reporters may obtain a copy of Community Guide to Base Reuse by contacting the Directorate for Defense Information, (703) 695-0192; other requesters should call (703) 697-5737.)



PLANNING GRANTS & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: The Department of Defense (DOD)assists local communities by providing community planning grants. These funds average $1 million and are provided over a three to five year period to help communities underwrite part of the local planning organization's costs. One new base closure community, Louisville, KY has already received an economic planning grant. DoD's Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) assigns economic development experts to help new base closure communities with base reuse planning. Throughout a multi-year base conversion process, these project managers help local leaders create an organization to plan for property redevelopment, assume property ownership, and manage the former defense assets

ON-SITE BASE TRANSITION COORDINATORS: These individuals, who serve as full-time on-site ombudsmen and women to communities and installations, are assigned to major base closure sites. These coordinators are trained in all aspects of the base closure and realignment processes. This training includes:working with base commanders, federal and state agencies to keep environmental cleanup on a fast track, pushing for rapid redevelopment of property and job creation; working with the military department and the community to identify and accommodate reuse needs and helping communities move to a civilian based economy.

FEDERAL ASSISTANCE: The Departments of Defense and Labor have comprehensive assistance for workers displaced due to base closure including programs for:displaced workers priority placement for other DOD jobs; outplacement referral services; private sector employer incentives; extended health insurance and funding for early retraining. Transition assistance centers will be established or expanded on each base to coordinate these programs. Also, a team from Defense and Labor will visit closing installations to provide transition,employment and retraining program information.

COMMUNITY GUIDE TO BASE REUSE: This new publication describes the improved base closure and reuse processes that help communities with local economic recovery. It also summarizes lessons learned by other communities that have transformed closing bases into new opportunities. It illustrates that communities have recovered economically and can, in fact, actually wind up better off, with a more diverse economy and more jobs.



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Sacramento Army Depot; Sacramento, CA - Packard Bell, the largest manufacturer of personal computers in the country, is creating 4,000 jobs in Sacramento this year. This is more than were previously employed at the former Army Depot. Work is now being moved from Taiwan to Sacramento where salaries will range from $19,000 to $40,000 annually. Packard Bell began its operations at the Depot before it was officially closed and transferred to the city. The transfer was one of the first under the Defense Department's new authority to discount property to create jobs. Additional reuses of the facility include California Emergency Food link, a wholesale food provider for the homeless and California State University, Sacramento. Possible additional tenants include Packard Bell subcontractors which will generate approximately 6,000 light industrial jobs over the next 15-20 years.

The Depot is also an environmental cleanup success story, attributable to a strong cleanup team and willingness to pilot innovative technology. Using an advanced air sparging system to remove solvents from both the soil and groundwater, the balance of the property will be ready for transfer in months instead of years. This advanced technology pumps air through the contaminated soil and ground water to extract the contaminants. The old technology of pumping the ground water out of the earth and treating it could have taken decades. The property is still on the Superfund National Priorities List, but that has not prevented its productive reuse.

Chanute Air Force Base; Rantoul, IL - The former air force base closed September 30, 1993 and to date more than 1,200 new jobs have been created. Businesses include: Textron, manufacturing plastic automotive parts for Chrysler; a civilian airport meeting tenth year projections in its second year of operation; a microfilm processing and document storage facility; and a truck driving school for J.B. Hunt. These and forty other industrial and commercial tenants occupy 1.3 million square feet and generate $1.2 million in annual revenues for the Rantoul Airport Development Center. Within the first year after closing, disposition was made on 98% of the former base properties. Commercial and housing parcels were sold at public bid sales. The ongoing development of these include more than 300 families residing in former base housing, an innovative foster care program, a medical clinic, and housing for the elderly. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service plans to open a new center at Chanute and will also employ several hundred personnel. The community has also been very active in environmental cleanup, providing input on the restoration activities through the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB).

Philadelphia Naval Shipyard; Philadelphia, PA - The Navy has yet to complete its work and close the Shipyard, but the city gained the ability to use its facilities through a master lease agreement with the Navy signed in November,1994. The city is negotiating with a major shipbuilding firm and eight other industrial firms, including Westinghouse Electric Corporation, who would like to lease space at the Shipyard. Garvey Precision Machinery recently signed an agreement with the Navy and is hiring former Shipyard workers. Westinghouse plans to move in this fall allowing reuse of the property before the installation is closed.

Naval Station New York; Staten Island, NY - Arnie's Bagelicious (a subsidiary of Quaker Oats) became the first commercial tenant at the Navy's Stapleton site last February. The firm's initial production of two million bagels a week will preserve 125 local jobs and add an additional 125 jobs, with the potential for many more. Arnie's lease of the 47,000 sq. ft. building in a Economic Development Zone provides tax incentives for the company to hire local workers. The company is already committed to spending an additional $4 million for new equipment

England Air Force Base; Alexandria, LA - Nearly 850 new jobs have been created at the former air force base since its closure in late 1992. By December 1993,England had nine new commercial operations, including a J.B. Hunt Transport Driving School, a facility maintenance firm, a new "Magnet" elementary school,aviation repair companies and local hospital expansion. The Air Force turned over virtually the entire base in March 1995 to the England Reuse Authority. Having the whole base under its control allows the local community to more readily attract potential reusers and better plan long-term development. The installation also prepared an Environmental Baseline Survey (EBS) and was able to determine that approximately 1,200 acres of the property were designated legally clean. To date, the installation has leased approximately 40% of the property. A reuse plan developed by the England Economic and Industrial Development District in January was approved by the FAA for a Record of Decision supporting base wide leasing. On the success of England's reuse, LorenC. Scott, an economics professor at Louisiana State University says, "The result has been a dramatic surge in jobs, home building and retail sales.

Naval Station Puget Sound (Sand Point); Seattle, WA - Beginning with the filming of memorable scenes from the hit movie "Sleepless in Seattle" in 1992,Sand Point's empty hangars and 1,000 feet of lakefront property have become film and television locations before the base has closed. For "Sleepless," the Navy granted the movie crews permission to use one of the hangars of this historic naval air station. Then, through the magic of movies, Sand Point became Manhattan, and the inside of the hangar became the observation deck of the Empire State Building. The recent production of a Fox television network replacement series situation comedy, "Medicine Ball", about a Seattle hospital,created 60 film crew-related jobs, over 300 construction jobs, and generated at least $5 million in revenue for the local area.

Pease Air Force Base; Portsmouth, NH - The former Pease Air Force Base is now the Pease International Tradeport with more than 1,050 new jobs since closure. The Tradeport currently has 36 lessees occupying over 855,000 sq. ft. of building space. Major tenants include a State Department Regional Passport and Visa Center, Business Express Airlines, a local technical college campus, and several small service-type operations. Two private companies, Celltech Limited(a British biotech company) and Redhook Beer Brewery are currently constructing multi-million dollar facilities and should begin operations next year. The Corporation for Laser Optics Research, and UITC, an aerospace parts manufacturing firm have recently signed leases to begin operations at the Tradeport. The Pease Development Authority began renovation of two other buildings totaling 95,000 square feet for multiple tenant occupancy beginning in early 1996. Pease is also home to the 1400 acre Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Bay supports the largest concentration of wintering black ducks and bald eagles in New Hampshire.

Myrtle Beach Air Force Base; Myrtle Beach, SC - Timberland Properties Inc.(TPI) will purchase 432 acres of the former Myrtle Beach AFB for a planned $510 million theme park and golf resort. The initial phase consists of the Isle of America theme park with high tech rides and shows that depict different regions and time periods of American life and history. TPI has an option to purchase an additional 600 acres to build a 27-hole golf course, a 20,000-seat ampitheater, two luxury hotels with a total of 3,200 rooms, 2,200 golf villas,and a 90,000 square foot conference center. All but the golf villas are expected to be opened by late 1997. The resort expects to create 2,500 construction jobs and 5,000 permanent jobs.

Fort Devens; Ayer, MA - Ft. Devens is a great example of Fast Track Cleanup at work. The base is on the Superfund National Priorities List, due to the extent of contamination. Cleanup would take many years under normal circumstances,and could delay reuse until completed. The BRAC Cleanup Team, working with the local Restoration Advisory Board and the local redevelopment authority,accelerated the schedule for cleanup by almost four years. Fort Devens' success is attributable to use of a common sense Fast Track cleanup approach which enables overlapping of cleanup phases; use of removal actions; and addressing all problems in the same area at the same time, all of which make property available for reuse more quickly.

Mare Island Naval Shipyard; Vallejo, CA - The Navy, the community, and theUniversity of California (UC), Davis have implemented an innovative parternship to train shipyard employees in environmental cleanup. The on-site training provided by UC Davis and funded by the Navy, has trained 500 workers in hazardous waste operations. Approximately 250 of those workers are currently employed cleaning up the shipyard. In a related program, UC Davis tailored individual curriculum for 60 shipyard engineers for certification in environmental engineering. The majority of the engineers are working on environmental clean-up at Mare Island, or have accepted offers from the private sector.

Fort Benjamin Harrison; Indianapolis, IN - Fort Benjamin Harrison occupies 2,501 acres in northeast Indianapolis, 1,100 of which are pristine, contiguous forestland. Most of this land is second-growth forest populated by vast walnut groves, a permanent deer population, rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, and a rookery for nearly 200 blue heron. This natural setting is accented by a 600-acre 18-hole golf course, ranked among the best in Indiana,three small lakes, and almost three dozen prehistoric archeological sites. Under the reuse plan, Fort Ben's natural beauty will remain intact. The State of Indiana has applied for a public benefit conveyance of 1,700 acres of forest and wildlife habitat to establish a State park. Additionally, 200 acres with residential structures will be converted to a hotel or inn supporting the park. The State also plans to purchase the base's 18-hole golf course. The reuse and redevelopment at Fort Ben focuses on the remaining acres, much of which are in a historic district that contains structures that have been nominated or are on the National Historic Register. The goal is to develop this property in a manner that enhances the State park and compliments the historic and residential nature of the property.

Naval Complex Charleston; Charleston, SC - Charleston is another example of how Fast Track environmental cleanup is preventing environmental issues from impeding reuse. Since Charleston is not on the Superfund National Priorities List, state environmental laws and regulations apply. The BRAC Cleanup Team and local Restoration Advisory Board worked together to reduce the cleanup schedule by over six years--cutting in half the "business as usual" scenario.

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