Environmental Cleanup Issues
big stumbling block to base redevelopment in prior BRAC rounds has been
the delay in environmental cleanup that has slowed the transfer of
property to the LRAs. Some closed bases still have large tracts with
chemical contamination, unexploded ordinance dangers, or other
environmental hazards. Recently, a new procedure called an
Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement (ESCA) has been
established to help speed the process.
"Before, the military
would clean up the property based on its annual allocation, and it may
not necessarily have been the piece of the base that the community
needed to advance its reuse plan," says Paul Kalomiris, executive
director of the Association of Defense Communities. "Now the LRA can
target the cleanup toward the land on the base that is central to its
At Alabama's 47,000-acre Fort McClellan (BRAC
1995), about 6,000 acres are contaminated with unexploded ordinance,
and there are also 10 landfills, 38 underground storage tanks, three
major groundwater plumes, and numerous other problem sites still to be
remedied. The McClellan Joint Powers Authority, the LRA for the base,
negotiated an ESCA with the Army, estimating remaining cleanup cost at
around $200 million, and received the contaminated property in an early
transfer so that it could privatize the cleanup work. Already at
McClellan there is an 18,000-acre master-planned community, and 3,000
jobs have been created there since the base closed in 1999.
California, the Air Force agreed to pay the Sacramento County LRA $11.2
million in an ESCA to remove the top 15 feet of PCB-contaminated soil
from a 62-acre parcel at the former McClellan Air Force Base (BRAC
1995), and the Army is paying $100 million to the LRA at Ford Ord (BRAC
1991) in Marina to remove munitions and explosives in 3,500 acres of
the 28,000-acre former base.
Kalomiris notes that during the
current BRAC round, the military has done "a much better job" in
providing LRAs with accurate information on environmental conditions on
its bases. Michael Houlemard, executive officer of the Fort Ord Reuse
Authority, warns, however, that although the information provided about
the status of transitioning bases is critical, it is not always
reliable. "It is crucial to have early and continuous access to both
physical spaces on former installations and the military personnel who
manage those facilities in order to adequately understand the
constraints and the opportunities of closing base properties," he says.
main difference between BRAC 2005 and prior BRAC rounds was the
military's primary objective. Previous rounds were more about force
reduction, says Kalomiris. In the 2005 round, the focus was on the goal
of creating more efficient missions and more efficiently operated
bases. As a result, about 20 communities will see significant levels of
mission growth, which creates its own set of challenges in terms of
infrastructure, schools, healthcare, and other services that must be
expanded to accommodate the sudden population growth.
major expansions include Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and Fort Bliss
in El Paso. Virginia will see growth at Fort Lee and Fort Belvoir, and
Maryland is bracing for an influx of personnel at Fort Meade, Aberdeen
Proving Ground, and several other bases. Other installations with
significant mission growth include Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Knox,
Kentucky; and Fort Carson, Colorado.
defense communities and the bases they host have become much more
sophisticated. Some states facing major mission growth have enacted
special legislation to help with increased demands on infrastructure
and education systems. Maryland even established a BRAC subcabinet to
help coordinate planning. San Antonio, which has a variety of bases and
is dealing with both closures and expansions, recently created an
Office of Military Transformation.
"The Defense Department and
defense communities have always been partners, and we're seeing even
more of those partnerships between bases and their communities," says
The military is also increasing partnerships with the
private sector through Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL), which brings
companies onto bases to establish facilities that advance mission
objectives. Two major new projects, both envisioned to exceed 1 million
square feet of office and laboratory space, are the Picatinny Applied
Research Campus at the Army's Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey and the
Emerald Coast Center at Elgin Air Force Base in Florida. Bases
throughout the country are also using EUL arrangements to attract
alternative energy companies.
Undoubtedly we will see more of these types of partnerships in the future.