|From:||Lenny Siegel <email@example.com>|
|Date:||3 Dec 2005 04:49:48 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-IRF] Governor's proposal for Willow Grove (PA)|
Press Release Pennsylvania Office of the Governor December 2, 2005
PA Governor Rendell Takes Willow Grove Future-Use Proposal to Local Officials, Urges Support for Plan to Save Military Airfield
HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Representatives of Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Pennsylvania National Guard today briefed local officials in Horsham, PA, about ideas for the future use of NAS JRB Willow Grove.
"When the Department of Defense recommended the closure of one of three of this nation's only true joint reserve bases last May, the Willow Grove community responded with an overwhelming outpouring of support to 'Save Our Base,'" said Governor Rendell. "Although we are all disappointed with the BRAC action to move the Navy and Marines, we still have an historic opportunity to save the base and preserve many of the benefits of a strong military presence in the Horsham community.
"While others may be planning for redevelopment, at this point, I am unwilling to give up on this opportunity to save the base and support the military in Horsham. Our plan shows that keeping this airfield open will keep 5,000 military jobs, save taxpayers millions of dollars, and assure that a vital public safety and homeland security asset remains in the region."
State officials urged local leaders to back a plan that would:
-- Save the military airfield and maintain military flying operations;
-- Maintain and expand the capabilities of this regional public safety and homeland security asset;
-- Establish military tenants and a manpower presence of more than 5,000 reserve personnel;
-- Lay groundwork for compatible inter-agency uses of the installation, such as FEMA and EPA;
-- Save substantial federal dollars expected to be expended on
-- Save state and federal military construction dollars while
establishing joint facilities and joint training opportunities for the Army Reserves and Army National Guard;
-- Free up prime real estate along Route 611 and in Warminster, Bucks County, for restriction-free redevelopment by the community.
The Pennsylvania plan for Willow Grove would keep the airfield under military control and allow for the continuation of military flying operations at the installation. It is legally consistent with both the BRAC recommendations, which now have the force and effect of law, and the decision of the United States District Court.
"When BRAC struck Willow Grove last May, state and local officials joined together to fight to save the base. We need to continue to work as a team to implement a realistic plan for future military use of this important installation," Rendell said.
The Governor was represented Friday in Horsham by Major General James Skiff, deputy adjutant general of the Pennsylvania National Guard; Colonel Paul Comtois, vice-wing commander of the 111th Fighter Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard; Dennis Guise, chief counsel for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; Retired General and former Pennsylvania Adjutant General William B. Lynch; and Jeffrey D. Marrazzo, special assistant to the Governor.
The key wording of the BRAC law requires the establishment of a "contiguous enclave for the 111th Fighter Wing (ANG) and the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron (ANG) sufficient to support operations of those units, including flight operations, and compatible with joint use of the former Naval Air Station as a civilian airport." (Emphasis added.) The "contiguous enclave" will include, at a minimum, the 111th Fighter Wing, the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron (ANG) and the 913th Airlift Wing (AFRES), as well as a new Armed Forces Reserve Center for the Army Reserve.
"We have told the Navy that it appears crystal clear that the enclave at Willow Grove should include working runways, towers and all other flight facilities," the Governor said.
Willow Grove's 8,000-foot runway is the longest in the region, outside of Philadelphia International Airport, and it has served effectively as a staging area during past emergencies.
"If the Navy sells Willow Grove's airfield, we will lose a vital piece of our national defense, which is essential to public safety, homeland security and emergency preparedness in southeastern Pennsylvania," the Governor said.
The Navy, which initially posted more than 1100 acres and 170 facilities for surplus at Willow Grove, has since cancelled this notice and has yet to indicate how it will re-interpret the BRAC decision and United States Court Decision.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania's future-use proposal establishes new military tenants while maintaining others, and creates an environment where other compatible government agencies will seek to call Willow Grove home - many have already expressed such an interest. The result, the Governor's representatives explained to local officials, is the potential for a robust military presence at Willow Grove, with more than 1,000 Army National Guard soldiers from the 56th Stryker Brigade being added, the manpower of the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard being maintained and an increase of more than 1,300 Army Reserves at the installation.
In addition to the BRAC Commission ruling that the 111th Fighter Wing should not be deactivated and should maintain its end strength, the Commission took no action to authorize, or even permit, the disbanding of the 913th Airlift Wing (913th). Additionally, the Commission's found that the 913th should be included as part of the enclave maintained by the 111th. The 913th has no authorization under BRAC to move, go out of existence, change its flying mission or take any other action using BRAC funding. The BRAC ruling and findings on the 913th only further substantiate the argument that Willow Grove must maintain flying operations. How imprudent it would be to have a base with two flying units and no operating airfield!
Besides the flying units, Governor Rendell urged local officials to support Pennsylvania's proposal to move the new 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team Headquarters to Willow Grove.
"The Stryker Brigade brings more than $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania's economy and the Guard's future-use plan for Willow Grove will station its headquarters and more than 1,000 personnel at the base," the Governor said.
Moving the Stryker to Willow Grove brings with it improved military cooperation, federal and state cost savings of $6 million and will allow private business expansion at Philadelphia's NE Airport.
What's more, Willow Grove's key strategic location is already attracting federal agencies to consider setting up shop there. FEMA is considering Willow Grove as a staging area and a potential site for a mobilization center, joint deployment processing facility, and storage area for emergency supplies and equipment. EPA has expressed a desire to place Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) at Willow Grove - Congressman Curt Weldon testified to this very fact before the BRAC commission on July 7, 2005. Willow Grove has the potential to become the model of a joint inter-agency operating location, which will provide for surge capability and staging areas to support homeland security and emergency operations of all kinds.
In addition to the fact that the BRAC law and court decision require the airfield to stay open, many of the pending BRAC moves from Willow Grove carry a price tag that may be prohibitive. For instance, the estimated cost of the redistribution of the 913th is $60 million and the Marines have estimated their move to McGuire could cost around $235 million. It is possible that in order for the Navy to be housed at McGuire the runway there will have to be extended by 2,000 feet.
Finally, the plan also provides the community with an opportunity for redevelopment of at least 150 acres. The property, located along Route 611 in Warminster, Bucks County, would be prime, restriction-free real estate that the community would have the ability to develop.
The Governor and the Pennsylvania National Guard believe this true multi- use plan provides the opportunity to save the installation and expand its capabilities to include inter-agency, joint-reserve compatible missions - the next generation of joint reserve bases where compatible government uses such as those necessary for homeland security and emergency preparedness, share facilities - all while freeing up prime real estate for redevelopment by the community.
The Rendell Administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us.
For the original press release, go to http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/051202/phf022.html?.v=23
-- Lenny Siegel Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041 Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545 Fax: 650/961-8918 http://www.cpeo.org _______________________________________________ Installation_Reuse_Forum mailing list Installation_Reuse_Forum@list.cpeo.org http://www.cpeo.org/mailman/listinfo/installation_reuse_forum
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