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Thread: What does Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) mean to you?

  1. #1

    Jun 2006
    Baltimore, Maryland

    What does Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) mean to you?

    Anybody got any good Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) stories yet?

    The couple of installations I've been working with are huge changes. Fort Bliss will see an increase of about 20,000 Soldiers. Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland will get about 13,000 civilians primarily from Fort Monmouth in NJ. El Paso is gearing up for the influx, but they don't have a strong culture of urban planning. Apartments downtown are reserved for transplanted easterners and those that can't afford something "better." They are going to sprawl over the desert. Aberdeen and the surrounding communities haven't had this much attention since the railroads took their shipping dollars in the 1800s. They are small hamlets and villages without the resources to direct growth into sustainable patterns. They're going to sprawl too. Especially when those high-tech NJ workers find out how much their $600k houses are going to buy in exurban Maryland.


  2. #2
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
    Dec 2001
    Mr. Cool Ice
    From the perspective of an area which lost (is losing) a base(s)

    I worked on/reviewed plans for the 1500+ unit subdivision which went on the Johnsville NAS in Warminster, PA and now with Willow Grove closing sometime, the development will be huge I'm sure.

    It took 20 years of so for Johnsville to come to life, I'm sure Willow Grove will be the same (I still dont think they'll ever actually close that one (the POTUS lands there)).

    With the Johnsville (now called "Anns Choice) I know this was a HUGE impact on the emergency services in the area, as this is age-restricted.

    Also, the cleanup of Johnsville took forever too. The military used to just dump "stuff" wherever they felt like it.

  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Jun 2003
    at the neighboring pub
    I think El Paso was trying something with their downtown renewal plan, but it has blown up in their face pretty bad and serves as quite a lesson in the need for a public process.

    San Antonio should be a poster-child for how to adapt following BRAC. I'm convinced that BRAC saved the city's economy. Before BRAC, the city relied 100% on the military presence as an economic engine with very little diversification. Now they've branched into several different fields and a more stable economy. The big downer was the huge pollution problem left behind at one of the bases that we are just starting to see results from (high cancer rates nearby, infant mortality and birth defects). The Air Force has been less than helpful in getting it cleaned up. The areas that can be used have been turned into one heck of an industrial district geared mainly toward the aerospace industry.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  4. #4

    Jun 2006
    Baltimore, Maryland
    (Disclaimer: I was only there for a year, and I spent that inside the fence. I'm sure somebody out there has better info.)

    El Paso has tried a couple of times to revamp its downtown. They have a very nice public square in the heart of downtown, and there are a lot of shoppers. The folks from Juarez come across the border everyday. Christmas brings a flood of people. All from across the ditch. They have many large vacant buildings downtown. After 7:00, downtown is a ghost town. Virtually no housing, little nightlife, and the suburban malls and strips cater to the natives. I heard talk that the owners of the large buldings only pay taxes on the occupied portion giving them no incentive to fill them. Hard to believe, but I heard a similar story about property taxes in New Orleans. Apaprently you could pay a tax assessor for the value you wanted to pay taxes on. When the FEMA went in to pay damages, they wanted to use the assessments, since there was no house to inspect. Owners went nuts.

    Can local governments be be that suicidally corrupt with impunity?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Apr 2003
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    I think that a base closure can hurt surrounding communities for a while, however depending on the condition of the former military base, it can become a terrific redevelopment opportunity. K.I. Sawyer about 10 minutes outside of Marquette Michigan closed several years ago. Since that time, the base has become the new Marquette County International Air Port, offered housing options, and has seen quite a bit of redevelopment. Several other examples, including one just outside of San Francisco have gone as far as creating a new urbanism community, industrial park, training center, and the expansion of a private college.

    I think that base closures are just one example of a big problem when municipalities relay too much on one specific employer. Any closure of an employer is not a good thing, but a diverse economic base can help to lessen the blow when something like this happens.
    There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences. However, it is our choice to learn the lesson and change or not.

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