By Mike Armstrong, Inquirer Columnist
Posted: March 12, 2013
Any time the military decides to close an installation, two things are sure: It will take a long time before the lights go out, and even longer for the site to find a new use.
In Philadelphia, the former Navy Yard is being transformed into a business hub. In February, city officials celebrated that 10,000 jobs and 130 companies are now located there. It took more than a decade to get to that point after the Navy signed over 1,000 acres in 2001.
Kansas encountered its own military conflict when a massive ammunition plant in Parsons was placed on the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. As with the Philadelphia Navy Yard, employment at the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant peaked during World War II, topping out at 7,358.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't pay much attention to a 13,700-acre base hundreds of miles from Philadelphia. But I do when a privately held Philadelphia company with $2.7 billion in annual revenue has been operating a munitions plant there for more than 40 years.
Day & Zimmermann Inc. has been managing the Kansas plant since March 1970, making all sorts of ordnance, detonators and antiarmor cluster bombs. During the Gulf war in 1991, the company employed about 1,300 people there.
The BRAC process in 2005 spelled the likely end of the operation, just as the same list led to the closure of Willow Grove Naval Air Station in our region. Activity in Parsons had already dwindled, with Day & Zimmermann employment having slipped to about 300 people.
Kansas didn't fight the installation's closure. Rather, the region formed the Great Plains Development Authority, which took title to a total of 6,800 acres in August. Officials have hopes of turning the complex into an industrial park.
Day & Zimmermann, too, wound up negotiating with the Army for 71/2 years to buy 4,112 acres and continue operating the plant, where it now employs about 150 people. After announcing an agreement in July, the transfer didn't occur in August as the company had hoped.
It's not clear why. Mike Yoh, president of Day & Zimmermann's munitions and government business unit, said in a statement that the company had "worked tirelessly" to reach an agreement, and that it'd been a "difficult process for our company and our employees."
On Saturday, the company announced that it had signed a new deal with the Army, but would not disclose the financial terms. A spokeswoman for the company could not be reached for comment Monday.
All that's left "is to consummate the transfer of the property with the Army," Yoh said in the statement. "Then we can put this long, arduous process behind us."
So is it really a done deal this time? Mission accomplished?
When the military is on the other side of the negotiating table, it's probably best not to count your munitions before they're in the bomb rack.
Parsons Sun, March 12, 2013
By Colleen Surridge
A month ago it seemed the fate of Day & Zimmermann Inc. in Parsons was sealed after the U.S. Army stated further negotiations with the company were "fruitless" and sent a letter requesting the company evacuate the property.
However, D&Z president of munitions and government Mike Yoh announced Monday that it finally received all approvals to sign the purchase agreement to allow the Army to transfer a portion of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant to D&Z in Parsons.
The agreement marks the end of nearly eight years of negotiations between D&Z and the Army, enabling the company to continue operations in the Great Plains Industrial Park and continue employing the 150 persons working in Parsons.
The century-old family-owned provider of construction and engineering, staffing and defense solutions was contract operator of the former KSAAP for 40 years.
The KSAAP, established as the Kansas Ordnance Plant, was one of 84 Army ammunition plants constructed in World War II. DZI was contracted by the Army and began operating the KSAAP in 1970, and in the following years the plant was modernized and automated. In the 1980s and early 199Os, the plant produced 155mm munitions (ICMS), detonators, cluster bombs and other munitions. Sensor-fuzed weapons contracts with the U.S. military had been central to D&Z's operations in Parsons the last decade.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced in 2005 that the KSAAP was recommended for closure and concerns arose that Parsons would lose D&Z.
Local business owners and operators, the Parsons City Commission and the Labette County Commission responded. Late County Commissioner Jerry Carson, former County Commissioner Brian Kinzie, then Parsons Mayor Bill Wheat, former Parsons Sun publisher Ann Charles, officials from Day & Zimmermann and other members of local governmental units and local economic development agencies entered into hours of meetings to determine the best approach for Parsons, Labette County and Southeast Kansas by forming a Kansas Army Ammunition Plant Redevelopment Task Force. Task force members committed thousands of hours to wading through the process for transferring 13,727 acres from the Army to the community for use as an industrial park and business incubator to boost the regional economy.
D&Z began working within 2005 to negotiate with the Army to retain a footprint for its facility and keep operating.
Years of negotiations ensued and local committees and authorities were formed as part of the process.
The Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA), a quai-municipality, eventually received a large portion of the former KSAAP land.
While the GPDA continued negotiations with the Army, negotiations with D&Z in Parsons were delayed, as the company's parent company focused first on negotiating with the Army for the transfer of the Lonestar Ammunition Plant in Texas. It was not until those negotiations were completed that negotiations were picked back up between D&Z and the Army on the KSAAP land transfer.
D&Z in Parsons completed its production contracts with the Army in 2008, but remained on the site as it waited on the purchase agreement with the Army to retain its facility in Parsons.
The U.S. Army deactivated the plant in March 2009 after nearly 70 years of operation. First property transfer consisted of 2,600 acres to the GPDA in February 2010, 2,000 acres of which the GPDA transferred to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, along with another 1,000 acres the U.S. Army transfered directly to the state. The Grand Osage Wildlife Area was formed.
For the initial 2,600 acres, the GPDA paid $1. For the remaining 6,116 acres, transferred in 2012, the GPDA paid the Army $49,999 down, and the GPDA is required by its purchase contract to make additional payments to the Army from its gross revenues for a 10-year period, not to exceed $3,450,000.
After negotiations with the Army on the Lonestar property went through, Yoh said the company anticipated the negotiations on the KSAAP property would go simply, but the Army had a different idea and wanted a new agreement.
To reach an agreement with the Army has been a step by step process. Each time D&Z would reach an agreement on one point with the Army, the Army would want to up D&Z's liability, but would not be willing to reopen points previously negotiated to compensate D&Z for its liability.
When the last terms were reached to finalize the sales and purchase agreement, Yoh said the Army had misinterpreted the terms sheet agreed to when it drew up the purchase agreement, and with the alteration of one sentence placed unlimited liability on D&Z for environmental cleanup. As well, the Army wanted to place the liability for environmental clean up not only on D&Z in Parsons, but on the primary corporation. Yoh said they found the Army's interpretation of the terms surprising, as they thought they had reached terms of agreement stating there would be a corporate cap on the company's risk.
D&Z spent more than a year negotiating with the Army, explaining that because of corporate scandals, such as Enron, banks were not allowing companies to take on liability. The banks would not lend the company any money, and therefore, the dealings were over for all practical purposes.
"That is why the Army ended negotiations," Yoh said. "We felt it was important to have a limit to our risk liability."
As D&Z has no knowledge of what contaminants might be in the ground prior to their taking over operations, Yoh said the company did not think it could take liability for environmental cleanup of whatever hazardous waste that might be there.
D&Z has 100 percent of all records, documenting everything it has ever done, and therefore has records of all hazardous waste it would be responsible for. The Army is going to accept responsibility for environmental cleanup of any hazardous waste that is pre-1970s, so Yoh said the company was able to convince the banks of limited liability, enabling the company to secure a loan, and in turn, sign the purchase agreement with the Army.
Financial terms of the agreement D&Z made with the Army are undisclosed. Katherine Hammack, with the secretary of the Army's office, stated in a January letter to Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins that the Army would give D&Z money to cover the cost of environmental clean up of the property. However, no financial terms were disclosed on the purchase price was for the 4,112 acres of improved property the facility occupies.
Yoh did state Monday that as part of the agreement, D&Z will acquire the 4,112 acres of property, and will also take on the environmental clean-up of those acres in accordance with the purchase and sales agreement.
“We’ve worked tirelessly to reach an agreement with the Army that our lenders found acceptable in today’s financial climate,” Yoh said. “It’s been a difficult process for our company and our employees. With the agreement signed, we can all refocus our energies and continue to do great work that moves the business forward and grows our workforce.”
"All that is left is to consummate the transfer of the property with the Army, and for the GDPA to execute its part of the agreements between D&Z and the GDPA that were agreed to happen at transfer. Then we can put this long, arduous process behind us and fully concentrate on what we do so well —supplying the best ammunition to the best military in the world," Yoh said.
When the Army had made the announcement in January it was ending negotiations, no one would give D&Z a contract for munitions. That does not mean necessarily that the contracts were given to other companies, though, Yoh said, so D&Z may still be able to secure some of those contracts it had bid on.
One of the GPDA's focal points since the original task force formed in 2005 has been keeping D&Z operating in Parsons.
"We think this is great for the community that they have been able to sign the contract with the Army," said GPDA chairman Bob Wood upon hearing the news. "They are the No. 1 steward of the industrial park and we've gone through this whole process with the hope D&Z would remain in the park and we would be providing services to them and they could keep operating and keep those jobs local.
"Our No. 1 position has been to help keep those jobs in place, so we're very happy they were able to sign the agreement with the Army," Wood said.
Yoh said the Kansas company has a superb workforce that has always well at producing quality munitions, and noted the D&Z in Parsons is really the best in the world what what it does.
While other facilities owned by D&Z do well, and may match the quality of products produced in Parsons, Yoh said, "We can't meet the pricing we do at this facility."
For that reason is was important for the company to keep D&Z in Parsons and "keep the jobs ... and keep folks working," Yoh said.
There are a few things that could still derail the agreement, but Yoh said the Army has accepted the contact, is in the process of signing the purchase and sales agreement, and is having its attorneys work to get the deed to the property finished.
Yoh said he did not have a precise date for the transfer, but said "It should happen soon. I have faith in in the Army after having worked with them for so many years, so I believe soon to mean soon."
Hearing about D&Z receiving final financial approval and signing and sending the "unaltered contract to the Army," Jenkins wrote to the Secretary of the Army: "Based on this new development, it is my sincere hope that the Army will continue to act in good faith and expedite acceptance of the P&SA in short order to bring more than seven years of negotiations to a close. Following the acceptance, the remaining steps should be taken swiftly, as the employees at D&Z and the surrounding communities are eager to place the years of uncertainty with a renewed sense of hope and enthusiasm that this facility will be able to compete for new work and continue to provide the Army with high quality munitions that Parsons has become known for."
Parsons Sun, March 6, 2013
By Colleen Surridge
For the past 7 1/2 years, Day & Zimmermann Inc. has been in negotiations with the U.S. Army to reach a land transfer agreement for the 4,100 acres its facility occupies on the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
“It has been a long struggle for our company and our employees throughout that entire timeframe. To date, we have yet to reach an agreement and are awaiting a response from the U.S. Army to our latest proposal,” Mike Yoh, DZI president, munitions and government, said Monday.
According to Katherine Hammack, writing on behalf of Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh to Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins on Jan. 22, the Army believed it had reached a consensus with DZI on the key principles of the sale of the property and had drawn up a final sale contract reflecting those terms, which the Army signed and sent to DZI to sign. DZI refused to sign the contract and submitted another proposal to the Army, which the Army found unacceptable.
The proposed changes to the contract basically stated once DZI expended the $20.5 million the Army had paid it for environmental cleanup (in addition to giving the company the improved property), DZI’s parent company would not be liable for completing the hazardous waste cleanup if any remained, and liability for the remaining cleanup would fall back on the Army.
DZI stated Tuesday it would make no further comment in relation to the Army’s claims in the letter to Jenkins or the Secretary of the Army’s office telling legislators further negotiations with DZI would be “fruitless.”
A variety of rumors have surrounded the Army’s decision, including Jenkins’ office purportedly telling at least one DZI employee in a phone conversation that “secret meetings” have been taking place between the Great Plains Development Authority and the Army, wherein the GPDA has been trying to convince the Army to end negotiations with DZI and give it the remaining acreage.
Jenkins’ office denied telling any DZI employee “secret meetings” have been conducted but told employees what Hammack stated in the letter to Jenkins.
“Since DZI declined to execute the final purchase and sales agreement, the Army has the responsibility to our partners in the Parsons community to move forward with property disposal. The Army understands Southeast Kansas needs jobs and new development, and we share a sense of urgency to have all the former KSAAP in productive use,” Hammack said in the letter. “To that end, the Army’s Plan B is already underway. We have initiated discussions with the Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA) for a further economic development conveyance in addition to the existing EDC agreement in place with the GPDA.”
GPDA interim executive director Ann Charles said the GPDA was recently contacted by the U.S. Army in regard to the Army’s Plan B.
“The Army has always talked to us about being a backup plan if D&Z was not successful. Everyone has to have a plan B — there’s nothing secret about it,” Charles said. “We have been informed that we should anticipate beginning the transfer process for the final 4,000 acres since the Army and D&Z are unable to come to a deal. However, that negotiation has not started.”
Following the Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s announcement that the KSAAP would be closed, multiple meetings were held, led by Labette County, the city of Parsons, DZI management and community leaders.
“Several meetings for BRAC sites were held around the country, and members of our group attended them to learn how the process worked and what assistance was available to us,” Charles said.
The results of the meetings were a plan for the community to acquire the property, lease back to D&Z what it needed and develop the rest as industrial to help diversify the economy.
“The hope was that by not fighting BRAC, which everyone agreed was likely futile, KSAAP would be at the front of the line for remediation money,” Charles said. “Under the Congressional action that created the BRAC act, there was also funding for the Office of Economic Adjustment to assist the communities dealing with the impact of closure or in some cases growth. Very specific guidelines were established by Congress for the acquisition and redevelopment of property being released by the Department of Defense.
Property was first offered, at no cost, to federal agencies, then state agencies and then only because neither of them took advantage of the offer for KSAAP, the property was offered to the local community. The “local community” had to be comprised of members of the governmental entities impacted. Great Plains (which began as the Local Redevelopment Planning Authority) was created to meet the requirements.
Had the local community expressed no interest in acquiring the land for economic development, the KSAAP would have been remediated by Army on its own schedule and put up for public bid once environmental remediation was completed.
At the start of the community’s negotiations with the Army when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced the Army’s decision to close the KSAAP, the LRPA initially discussed it acquiring all the plant property and selling the land back to DZI.
“However, that was determined an impossible scenario due to the contamination and us being in the chain of ownership. So we negotiated a footprint with the company, and only then did it start negotiations with the Army,” Charles said.
Charles said the GPDA never wanted to lose DZI and the jobs the company provides within the Parsons community.
“At one point, more than a year ago, when D&Z negotiations looked like it was standing still, we suggested that we could buy the property and then lease it back to D&Z for use,” Charles said. “The company said no, and since that time, the Army has implied that would not work due to its requirement to conduct remediation, which would eliminate many of the buildings.”
With the Army stating it is unable to reach an agreement with DZI and turning back to the GPDA for Plan B, when asked by the Army several weeks ago about what its plan would be for the property, all the GPDA had to do was pull out its master redevelopment plan that was created when the GPDA originally thought it would have ownership of all of the acreage.
A part of that plan, developed several years ago, identifies potential types of businesses to approach that would be most compatible with the particular property, and all the GPDA can do is give it its best shot to bring new industry into the Great Plains Industrial Park that will provide jobs to help compensate for those that may be lost if DZI leaves.
“Concurrent with the discussion of an EDC, the Army will consider terms of an environmental services cooperative agreement with GPDA to perform environmental restoration in a similar performance-based manner to the existing ESCA with GPDA,” Hammack said. “The scope of tasks, cost and schedule would have to be evaluated, but is likely to be similar to the tasks DZI originally committed to complete. However, unlike the approach proposed by DZI, with an ESCA with the GPDA would enable the Army to have more accountability over the funds expended, as well as more specifically enforceable assurances that cleanup tasks would be completed.”
Hammack said expected employment at the site is largely dependent upon how GPDA markets and attracts tenants and developers to the site.
“It is important to note GPDA’s re-use plan addressed the entire site to include the DZI parcel,” Hammack stated.
The GPDA indicated to the Army a railcar scrapping operation could be located at the former KSAAP.
“Other opportunities for the GPDA include warehousing operations (including leasing explosive storage igloos), attracting other munitions operators (to include small arms) and propellant repackaging,” Hammack said.
Charles said the GPDA was established to ensure the former KSAAP was decontaminated as quickly as possible for economic development to benefit Parsons and the surrounding area, and the property returned to the tax base of Labette County.
“I am concerned that people are suspect of our motives,” Charles said. “This is an extremely difficult and frustrating job.The thing that keeps me dealing with it every day is the hope that one day my grandchildren will be able to choose whether to leave the county, not feel they have to. To date we have not asked for any tax levy to support our operation, and our board of directors has made it clear that they never intend to.
“I would ask, if ‘we’ weren’t taking on this challenge, just who would have? No one else stepped up to the plate and the opportunity was there,” Charles said. “If an industrial park doesn’t fly, the worst case scenario is that we cut our losses and sell it all for farmland — but only after it’s clean. Our failure to succeed cost the county nothing other than the potential jobs we weren’t able to create.”
This is the first of a two-part series on the U.S. Army’s decision to end negotiations with Day & Zimmermann Inc. to transfer more than 4,100 acres to the company and begin negotiations with the Great Plains Development Authority on the transfer of the remaining property of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
Parsons Sun, March 5, 2013
By Colleen Surridge
Day & Zimmermann Inc. employees conducted a letter-writing campaign to Kansas legislators appealing to them to encourage the U.S. Army to return to the negotiations table after the Army served the company notice to evacuate the property by July 31.
DZI manager Sally Boulanger stated in January that the Army had walked away from negotiations, despite DZI’s requests to return to the table to work out the sale and transfer of the property that the company occupies at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
Addressing their constituents’ concerns, the legislators contacted the U.S. Army to find out why the Army “walked away” from negotiations after 7 1/2 years of effort to reach an agreement.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins wrote to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh Jan. 3, questioning why “the Army has walked away from the people of Labette County once during the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process and cut off negotiations prematurely when just months ago, an agreement was in hand.”
The letter refers to a March 2012 meeting, which Jenkins and Roberts attended with representatives of the Army and DZI, during which “Major General Al Aycock indicated he expected to see this agreement through as the remaining differences were minimal.” At that time, the general expressed his belief that a disagreement involving costs and completion of environmental cleanup and restoration would be resolved.
The legislators requested the Army provide justification for the following:
— Why the Army is willing to walk away from 7 1/2 years of negotiations in good faith regarding the transfer of the property.
— Why the D&Z Kansas guarantee is not sufficient given similar situations in other states.
— How the Army intends to move to a Plan B for the KAAP, including estimations of cost, timeline and expected employment levels at the site.
Katherine Hammack responded on behalf of McHugh, with a letter of detailed explanation regarding what events had transpired.
Hammack stated she was in attendance at the March meeting, which had been very productive as it had produced a term sheet by July 2012, which the Army believed “represented the consensus on the key principles of a sale of KSAAP,” and “met the critical requirements of both parties.”
The terms sheet expressed the exchange of the 4,112 acres of property on which DZI-Parsons sits and the Army paying DZI an additional lump sum of $20.25 million for environmental restoration, DZI’s parent company guaranteeing the funds provided be expended only on environmental cleanup and cleanup would be performed and all regulatory permits met by DZI.
As the Army is responsible for ensuring environmental restoration of the property is complete, the Army needed a guarantee from DZI that the company would complete the environmental cleanup required by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The term sheet divided environmental restoration into a series of tasks, and assigned each task “an agreed-upon task value.”
“DZI-Kansas, a limited liability company, has been established to protect the parent, DZI, from future liability,” Hammack wrote, so the guarantee was sought to assure taxpayers that the money paid to a private entity was spent on what the Army had paid for.
The total estimated costs of the cleanup represented a “maximum exposure” for the company.
“As tasks were performed, the associated task values would be deducted from the parent company’s maximum exposure. Only when a task was complete would the particular task-value zero-out. For its part, DZI could predictably and transparently reduce or step-down its balance sheet liabilities as it completed the various tasks identified in the term sheet,” the letter explained.
Hammack stated that the Army signed the final purchase and sale agreement (P&SA) offer to DZI as promised on Dec. 14, 2012, with the offer following the term sheet provisions closely. However, she said, DZI insisted upon changes to the P&SA that were contrary to the “parental guarantee provisions” of the term sheet and declined to execute the offer.
Of critical importance, nowhere in the term sheet did it state that DZI could expend a limited sum of money, leave one or more tasks incomplete, and then rely on the Army to retain the remaining response obligation. To the contrary, she said the term sheet states: “The task value for each task is fixed and agreed up and shall not be reduced or increased by the actual cost incurred in performing such tasks.”
Contrary to the claims of DZI that the Army walked away from negotiations, Hammack said, “DZI desired to change key provisions of the previously agreed on terms.”
The changes to the agreement included that the parent company’s guarantee for environmental cleanup of the property would end after it had spent a certain amount of money, regardless of whether the environmental cleanup was completed. This would leave the Army responsible for whatever cleanup remained.
“The DZI approach would result in an agreement that provides insufficient response assurances to the Army and the community. This is especially noteworthy because more than half the environmental restoration under the task schedule would be deferred — much of it indefinitely,” Hammock wrote. “This is different from DZI assertions made at the March 2012 meeting that 92 percent of the work would be completed within the first five years.
“The Army is concerned about the potential that DZI would expend the money yet not complete the work,” she said. “DZI’s new assertions also make it fruitless to pursue further negotiations. ... The Army has provided notice to DZI that DZI must wind down its current contract operations at the former KSAAP within the next 180 days (by July 31, 2013).”
In response to a call made by the Sun Thursday to Congresswoman Jenkins, her office responded that Jenkins “was not pleased with the Army’s response stating further negotiations with DZI would be unproductive in resolving this dispute, and that the Army had given notice that without a signed agreement, DZI will be required to vacate the property by July 31, 2013. She remains in contact with DZI, the Army and the Great Plains Development Authority in hopes that current jobs are not lost, and more jobs are added through further economic development at the site.”
Parsons Sun, March 1, 2013
The Great Plains Development Authority’s board of directors voted Thursday to grant a requested extension to Day & Zimmermann to pay for two industrial water meters providing service at its production facilities in rural Parsons.
Failure to pay will result in the GPDA shutting off the company’s water service, which may force the company to shut down. The action follows a previous notice dated Feb. 14 giving D&Z until 5 p.m. Thursday to make the payment.
The bill for the industrial water meters is $36,612. They were installed in October after Great Plains acquired ownership of the water and wastewater operations of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant (KSAAP). Upon receiving the initial notice of service termination D&Z questioned the validity of the agreement allowing for the billing. The agreement was signed in December 2011 by Great Plains’ former CEO and D&Z’s general manager. The agreement expressed the intent to sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for terms concerning water, wastewater and rail operations once both parties acquired ownership of their individual parcels of the property.
Great Plains established its utility operations based on the agreed-to terms in the MOA. That included water/wastewater rates, meter installation terms and restrictions on the rail within the anticipated D&Z footprint. The munitions manufacturer has paid for all water and wastewater billings, as well as the water meter installed at an office building. The only unpaid portion is the nearly $37,000 for industrial meters.
In its 2012 year-end financial report interim executive director Ann Charles said that the development authority had a net loss in its operation of the property from Sept.1 through Dec. 31 of $528,939. She wrote that $230,000 of that was for the operation of the water and sewer plants, specifically to provide D&Z with those services. For the fledgling organization to incur nearly a quarter-million loss in support of the company, only to have it refuse to pay for its water meters, was unbelievable.
Charles said that every new organization or company knows it will have start-up costs as it gears up its operation, and Great Plains anticipated the additional expense to keep the jobs at D&Z until it is able to connect to water service with the city of Parsons. It did not, however, expect its initial tenant to renege on its obligation.
Day & Zimmermann Inc., the parent company of D&Z-Kansas, is ranked by Forbes as one of the largest privately owned companies in America with $2.7 billion in revenues. Great Plains’ board expressed frustration that a company that size would fight over such a comparatively small amount, especially when the authority had been operating at a significant deficit to make sure the company and its employees had water and sewer services to operate.
The Authority has offered D&Z an installment plan to pay for the meters over a 12 month period and is hopeful that will be acceptable. While Great Plains is making every effort to work with the company to avoid a potential shut down, Charles said it really isn’t for Great Plains to decide. D&Z has to determine how important its operation is in Kansas and how much its employees mean to it.
Parsons Sun, January 22, 2013
By Colleen Surridge
The Great Plains Development Authority is awaiting scheduling of a hearing date to appeal issues surrounding a property tax bill sent in December from the Labette County Appraiser’s Office.
The U.S. Army transferred land at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant to the GPDA on Aug. 28. No property valuation notice was issued by the county, but the GPDA received a bill for $185,030 from the county appraiser’s office in December.
“We are still working through this very complicated issue,” said GPDA interim executive director Ann Charles.
The county is required to issue property owners a valuation notice annually, allowing the property owner a set amount of time to appeal the valuation before taxes are assessed, but the GPDA was denied this opportunity.
Another major point of contention for the GPDA is Labette County Appraiser De-Linda White trying to assess the GPDA for taxes on the property from the date a purchase agreement was made in June, rather than the date of transfer. As well, all land transferred to the GPDA was taxed as commercial.
One particular parcel of land covers a square mile and includes four different production areas, which are undergoing strict environmental remediation in preparation for their demolition. All of the buildings in the area are unusable for anything and despite the fact 80 percent of them will be demolished once Matrix Environmental Services completes decontamination in accordance with the strict Environmental Protection Agency and Kansas Department of Health and Environment guidelines, White assessed taxes on all of the buildings standing as commercial property, billing the GPDA $58,000.
“A rough count is that we have about 330 buildings, many of them simply sentry stations or vacuum houses with minimal square footage. I am estimating that about 33 will actually be demolished during remediating as they are classified ‘significantly explosively contaminated,’ although that number could increase as we move forward,” Charles explained. “Another 40 percent are ‘explosively contaminated’ but can be remediated in place. This is a huge area of concern as these buildings may have a roof removed, a huge hole cut in the concrete floor, ventilation systems removed, etc., to accomplish the remediation. Unfortunately, the dregs of the building will be left intact and unusable. This is a major problem across the country with the ‘05 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) round as DOD (Department of Defense) is doing minimal demo to remediate and leaving the shells for communities to deal with.
“Most of the remaining buildings are structurally compromised in some way, rendering them unusable, or simply not adaptable to any current purpose. Due to decades of not being used that might include general neglect, missing roof parts, structural weaknesses,” Charles added. “These will be removed as funding is available, or as the property is sold and the new owner takes them down. Only about 40 buildings have any value to Great Plains.”
Considering the status of the property, the only use currently for the majority of property the GPDA possesses is for agricultural use, which is what it expected the majority of the property to be assessed as, until businesses and industries begin to come in and the land is developed. The GPDA property is on the tax rolls, and all the land being leased for agricultural use is taxable, and the GPDA had paid taxes on that land.
Assessing all the land for commercial use now will quickly bankrupt the GPDA, the board said.
To battle the county’s taxation will be costly, but the GPDA is appealing.
The GPDA was given three weeks from the time the county appraiser sent the bill to pay the first half of the taxes, $92,515, and to file an appeal. To appeal, the GPDA was told it would cost $400 per parcel for a total of $13,200 - a nonrefundable amount even if it should win the appeal.
“We retained the services of a property tax attorney in Topeka to help us navigate the process, and subsequently paid the first half taxes under protest on eight of the 33 parcels.
The GPDA had also originally been denied the chance to make an appeal at the local level.
Charles said the GPDA’s objections accompanying its payment of the first half of the taxes were:
1) The date of acquisition of the property was incorrect.
2) Taxes are to be based on the value of the property as of Jan. 1 of the tax year, but the GPDA’s were based on a mid-year valuation.
“We got word back that the appraiser’s office was changing the date of acquisition to the date of the last signature on the deed, and that all parcels would be changed accordingly not just the ones on which we protested,” Charles said. “We were also told we could have a local appeal hearing on the parcels, which I accepted. That hearing will be set up as soon as we can coordinate the time. At that hearing we hope to prevail on the second point, also, and if so, would anticipate that it would be applicable to all the parcels.
“We are also hopeful that we can work some other concerns out to limit the
number of parcels we need to take to the Court of Tax Appeals,” Charles said.
Parsons Sun, December 22, 2012
by Colleen Surridge
The Great Plains Development Authority signed a lease contract with its first new tenant in the Great Plains Industrial Park — Progress Rail Services.
“We are really excited about having with the amount of potential they offer as far as growth and revenue,” GPDA interim director Ann Charles said.
“This has been a really challenging negotiations process, but we always knew the rail was critical to our being able to succeed in the future.
“That is one of the great things about having a private, diversified board of people that have their own levels of expertise they contribute, like to insurance and environmental, because this was a large contract to work through,” she said.
Progress Rail Services will operate first out of an office in the rail yard.
“They plan on being in the first of January,” Charles said. “They will start out with railcar storage and mobile railcar repair as initial operations and go from there after they get on their feet.”
As a part of the contract with Progress Rail, the company is responsible for making any designated rail improvements and is responsible for all rail maintenance.
As well, the GPDA signed a joint lease agreement with Union Pacific Railroad.
The GPDA already had a use agreement with UP to enable the railroad to drop off cars to industries in the industrial park, but the joint agreement will allow for Union Pacific to work for Progress.
The lease signed with Progress Rail is for 10 years.
“Part of the difficulty we had in coming to an agreement is the contract had to be long enough term for Progress Rail to justify its investment in the rail and get their investment back, but also it had to be short enough for our board so we were not encumbering future boards with the inability to make changes to leases or revenue streams. Really, 10 years from now, none of us know what this industrial park is going to look like.”
The contract lease amount with Progress Rail is for $2.7 million over the 10-year period. In addition to the $2.7 million, the GPDA has the opportunity to make additional revenue as Progress Rail charges other industries that locate in the plant fees for each car delivered.
“Progress will charge them ‘x’ amount per car, and we will get 5 percent of those service fees,” Charles explained.
While the revenues may sound like a significant amount for the GPDA, Charles said their purchase agreement with the Army requires that in years seven and eight after the purchase, the GPDA is required to pay the Army 25 percent of its revenues from the industrial park. During years nine and 10, the GPDA is required to pay the Army 50 percent of its revenues.
“In the event GPDA gets a contract for the sale of rail right-of-way and property adjacent to rail during the 10-year period, GPDA will pay 50 percent of gross price, not to exceed $3 million,” Charles said, but noted “Great Plains has no intention of selling rail – it will be our revenue generator for years to come.”
Despite the lengthy negotiations to reach a lease agreement, Charles said the GPDA is very excited to welcome its first tenant on the property.
Parsons Sun, December 21, 2012
By Colleen Surridge
The Great Plains Development Authority approved the purchase of eight security gates last week in preparation for the opening of Scott Road.
GPDA interim director Ann Charles said the gates are meant to prevent vehicle access to areas that are undergoing explosive remediation, as well as security-specific areas, warehouses and the quarry at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant. The plant is being converted into the Great Plains Industrial Park.
“This is just meant to keep them off the roads. All of the areas still have their own security fence, high chain-ink, like 700, 300, 500 and 800 areas, and they are also secured,” Charles said.
Installation of the gates will allow the GPDA to eliminate guards at all of the entrances, so there is no expense for that. As well, she said, the gates will cut down on the costs of the Labette County Sheriff’s Department’s roving patrol, as only the east side of the property will need to be covered.
“It is a little nerve-wracking to talk about, but it will enable us to cut loose of unnecessary expenses.”
Day & Zimmerman Inc., the longtime contractor-operator of the plant that has remained at the industrial park, will retain guards at its entrances.
All of the signage for Scott Road has been purchased.
“We bought all of the signs early and paid for the labor up front, so we could install the signs as the roads open,” Charles said.
“We’re shooting for an April opening,” Charles said of Scott Road.
“A lot of D&Z employees will be thrilled they can come in through the south again,” Charles said, as will those persons who use the road to travel from Parsons south.
Until the county takes over maintenance of the roads on the property, Charles said the GPDA will likely only open the road Monday through Friday, through the work day, and close it over night and on the weekends.
Parsons Sun, December 18, 2012
By Colleen Surridge
The Great Plains Development Authority is entering into agreement with another consultant to aid in bringing new companies into the Great Plains Industrial Park.
The GPDA formed a collaboration with the Advanced Manufacturing Institute about a year ago, through a contract with K-State and an economic development grant that is just entering its third year. AMI is the one that brought the rail consultant to the GPDA, which connected the authority with Progress Rail Services that is now in the midst of negotiating a lease with the GPDA.
GPDA interim director Ann Charles said the GPDA is reaching out to locate other consultants to find businesses willing to relocate in Parsons and the Great Plains Industrial Park.
Recently, the GPDA connected with military vehicle remanufacturing consultant Col. Ralph Runnabaum.
Charles said the remanufacturing of military vehicles is a vital industry. Thousands of military vehicles shipped overseas with Kansas National Guard troops during the Gulf War returned damaged or in disrepair and former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius was concerned the state would no longer be able to respond to emergencies. Operation Intense, a military vehicle manufacturing operation, was established to restore the vehicles to like-new condition. Soon the operation began to supply remanufacture of vehicles all over the nation and private companies were established to perform the work as well.
The GPDA visited with Runnabaum concerning the possibility of his finding a remanufacturing operation interested in locating in the Great Plains Industrial Park. He visited the industrial park in Parsons and Charles said Runnabaum was thrilled with one of the buildings in the 900 area, as rail service runs alongside the building.
Finding facilities in the park more than adequate for remanufacturing operations, AMI set up a tour of two remanufacturing facilities in Kansas, in Salina and Fort Riley. The GPDA board of directors, accompanied by Runnabaum, learned about the various aspects of the remanufacturing operation.
“The military is downsizing now, but has to keep its military vehicles on readiness status and they have no place to park everything,” Charles said.
At the two operations visited, board member James McCarty said it seemed like miles upon miles of equipment was stored. Fort Riley has 65 acres of storage area.
”And the space was rented or leased on a square-foot basis, not by the acre,” McCarty said.
Because the GPIP has buildings located beside a rail system, so the vehicles can immediately be transported, Runnabaum told the GPDA group he felt he would have no problem finding a remanufacturing operation that would want to locate a storage facility in the park.
Once storage for an operation is established, Charles said it is likely the operation would expand to include a remanufacturing plant in the park.
“Some equipment wouldn’t take much infrastructure change,” Charles said. “There are private companies that could do this, as well as the government. Ralph has contacts in both arenas.”
One outgrowth of the storage and remanufacturing may be a scrapping operation, Board member Dan Peterson said.
An idea Charles shared with Runnabaum was to focus on employing veterans/disabled veterans, since the work is an outgrowth of what they had done in the military.
“Those people have the skills and knowledge to break a vehicle down, repair it from the ground up and turn it into a new piece of equipment,” Charles said. “As veterans come out of the service they have special needs and disabilities. This would help them to know they are not out there by themselves, they would be here with other people. Ralph really liked the thought. It’s just something to think about going in to it.”
Another possibility for expansion at the plant if a remanufacturing operation is located in the park, is bringing in farm equipment and heavy construction equipment remanufacturers, board member Carolyn Kennett said.
All the opportunities mentioned would fit well with the skill set of people from Parsons and the surrounding area and ensure a plentiful number of employees, McCarty noted.
Charles requested the board approve the GPDA writing a letter of engagement through AMI with Runnabaum for his services in helping the GPDA to attract a vehicle remanufacturing storage operation to its site. The cost for Runnabaum’s services are $25 an hour, capping at $5,000 plus the cost of travel.
“If he brings to us a legitimate lease for warehouse operations, we would pay him an additional $5,000 bonus,” she said.
The board agreed to issue the letter of engagement, but with the addition of a statement making it clear that the GPDA is interested in securing a lease with a remanufacturing operation, not just serving as a storage facility.
Parsons Sun, December 14, 2012
By Colleen Surridge
Matrix Environmental Services is continuing with decontamination efforts in the 700 area of the Great Plains Industrial Park.
Senior project manager Peggy Llewellyn told the Great Plains Development board of directors Thursday that the three 50 feet by 300 feet buildings in the area are all being stripped and steam cleaned in preparation for their demolition in three to four months.
Showing a picture of one of the buildings, Llewellyn pointed to different piles of materials being separated, such as piping that at one time contained explosives, pieces of asbestos and other materials.
"We are salvaging whatever we need to out of the buildings," she said.
One of the piles of rubble on the floor actually contains detonators that Matrix will be required to set off with live charges. She said this will require they evacuate areas for up to two hours, based on use of up to a 10-pound charge, although they will not being using charges that large.
A few of the small buildings will be steam cleaned, but won't require removal of everything.
When asked if any of the buildings were worth saving for industrial use, Llewellyn mentioned one, the waste water treatment building built in the late 70s or early 80s. There is an overhead crane in the building and it could have potential for future years, or Llewellyn said, the GPDA could at least scrap the steel from the metal building.
Interim director Ann Charles said GPDA staff and board members will undergo training on the 18 million ESCA (Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement) grant to walk recipients through the grant and how the funds are released and how they are to be used.
Charles also told the board that while Matrix is contracted to provide services through ESCA, which includes all remediation, there are times when they are in need of environmental engineer services that fall outside the ESCA contract.
For example, Charles said, there are 80 some employees working under a variety of contractors doing remediation work on the property. Each is required to provide documents to the Corps of Engineers, and to sign off on them the GPDA passes them through Matrix. In addition, there are needs such as review of Army documents and permit issues, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) documents relative to hazardous explosive materials monitored by the EPA; and modifications to other documents that fall outside Matrix's contractual obligations under ESCA.
"Matrix was pulling our first property out from under RCRA when it was still owned by the Army. They may be able to pull out another area, the 900 area, because remediation is all done there, so there will be no restrictions on it except its use as an industrial area," Charles said.
The amount the GPDA would pay Matrix annually for services outside ESCA contract would depend on the amount of work performed, but would cap at $34,000 for the year. If no services are used, no charges are assessed.
Llewellyn said most of the work Matrix would perform would be during the first two years to assist the GPDA in getting through the myriad of paperwork issued by the Army and in helping it get as much property out from under RCRA permit as possible so it is unencumbered.
Another service Matrix provided was when contamination exploration was being done on the north side of the plant, a contractor only wanted to have to go down 1 foot.
"Matrix response was when someone builds on a property, the foundation goes deeper than one foot, so they needed to go four feet down with sonars so they can pinpoint anything hit, so if someone buys the property, they know exactly anything that is there and where it is," Charles said. "The Army has not concurred with that recommendation yet, but that is what we are asking for."
In other business, the board:
Approved funding being released funds for long-term monitoring of wells on the GPDA property for this year. Monitoring falls under Matrix's contract under ESCA.
Heard the GPDA is giving away a large number of panel-partition desks to anyone willing to haul them off. The desks are about 26 years old and the electrical components cannot be replaced. Anyone interested in acquiring these should contact the GPDA.
Approved purchasing a new stainless steel snow blade that can be used interchangeably on different vehicles, such as two pumper trucks, a road grader and front loader. The GPDA could not locate a dump truck with a blade to purchase.
Heard the search committee has interviewed three companies to conduct a nationwide CEO search for the GPDA. Two companies garnered the committee's interest and were interviewed by phone, and will be interviewed in person. A recommendation will be presented to the board by the end of this year.
Heard the Office of Economic Adjustment may provide the GPDA with additional funding in order to engage the services of an engineer to advise them on what action to take in regards to water and wastewater treatment plants and to engineer a water line being brought in from Parsons to the water tower in the industrial park. The OEA grant would be based on a 90/10 split, equating to about $160,000 for the 10 percent.
Parsons Sun, November 27, 2012
By Jamie Willey
Parsons city commissioners approved on a 4-1 vote a memorandum of understanding that announces the city’s intention to provide water to the Great Plains Industrial Park.
The city plans to run an 8-inch line from Main Street south to the entrance to the park on Southern. The park is at the site of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant. The new line would allow the city to become the supplier of potable water to the park as it develops. Water would be sold at a wholesale rate, comparable to the agreement the city has with rural water districts.
The agreement also would give the city the right to negotiate with the Great Plains Development Authority to use its water rights on the Neosho River as a secondary water source for the city. The city has its own water rights on the Neosho, but the city’s intake point for the river is no longer usable after the river changed course many years ago.
Commissioner Frankie Barnett cast the vote against the proposal. His primary objection was that the park would get water at a wholesale price instead of the retail rate for customers outside the city limits. The rate outside the city for retail customers is double that of retail customers inside the city.
City Manager Fred Gress said the GPDA would buy very large amounts of water and then resell it to businesses within the park, similar to the arrangement rural water districts have with its retail and commercial customers.
Gress also said selling water to the GPDA would help make up for the loss of about $200,000 in revenue the city lost when Rural Water District No. 4 chose another primary water source. The revenue could help make improvements to the water distribution system in the city and possibly help avoid a rate increase.
Barnett also objected to the city building the line out to the entrance of the plant. He said if the GPDA is not willing to pay for the improvement, the city shouldn’t fund it instead.
“They’re just asking for whatever they want, the way they want it, and the taxpayer is going to foot the bill,” Barnett said.
Barnett also said the city staff has told the commission the city doesn’t have the manpower to place water line within the city because the water crew is too busy making repairs. He said if the GPDA doesn’t want to pay for the water line extension, it can get its water from another source.
The other four commissioners agreed that the potential for additional revenue from the sale of water was worth the investment, especially because the city also will benefit from the new jobs that will be created at the park.
Commissioner Bill Hogelin said the city needs to do all it can to help the GPDA.
“I mean, that’s a given,” Hogelin said.
Commissioner Tom Shaw agreed the city should do all it can to help, as long as there is no burden on the city. In this case, he said, the city would benefit from the additional revenue and jobs in the area.
Jim Lubbers, a member of Rural Water District No. 4, said the district has two water lines adjacent to the park, but the GPDA told the district it would not provide potable water to the industries at the park. The park has its own water distribution system, but the treatment plant is outdated and doesn’t allow the GPDA to properly clean its water for drinking.
Commissioner Kevin Cruse said he would rather the city provide water to the park than have it come from a source outside the immediate area. RWD No. 4 gets its water from Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 23, Fredonia.
City Attorney Ross Albertini said because the park is not in rural water district territory, the GPDA can negotiate with whomever it wants for a source of water. Albertini said the city must look after its best interests, and the RWD No. 4 board can negotiate with GPDA if it wants.
Lubbers said he also was disappointed that the Sun stated that the water district no longer has a contract with the city. Albertini clarified that the city still has a contract with the district, but the city is no longer the primary provider of water for the district. Gress said he did not say in a Thursday work session that the city no longer has a contract with the district, only that the city lost about $200,000 in revenue from selling water to the district.
Gress said on Thursday that engineering for the line extension would cost $8,000 to $10,000. Materials would cost $50, 000 to $55, 000, and the city’s water line crew would do the work.
“We think the positives outweigh the negatives 10 to one,” Gress said.
Parsons Sun, November 20
The city of Parsons would like to spend about $60,000 to extend a water line to the Great Plains Industrial Park east of town.
City Manager Fred Gress told city commissioners during a Thursday work session that he wants them to “favorably consider” a memorandum of understanding with the Great Plains Development Authority that would signify the city is willing to work with the GPDA on supplying potable water to the park. The park has its own water treatment and distribution system, but they are outdated and in need of upgrades.
Gress said under a future contract, the city could lay an 8-inch water line near Rooks Road to the main gate of the park. From there, the GPDA would make the needed infrastructure improvements to allow it to buy water from the city and distribute it throughout the park as it develops.
Gress said the memo of understanding and future contract would offer many advantages to the city. The memo will let the public know that the city is supportive of the industrial park and is willing to partner with the GPDA to help make it successful. The city recently lost a wholesale contract with Rural Water District No. 4 that resulted in a loss of about $200,000 in annual revenue, and supplying water to the industrial park in the future would help negate some of that loss.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, a contract with the GPDA would ensure that the city would have access to its water rights on the Neosho River if needed. That would supply the city with an alternate water source. Although Lake Parsons, the city’s primary water source, has more than an adequate amount of water to serve the city, Gress said if the Labette Creek were to become contaminated by a spill from nearby truck or train traffic between the lake and the water plant, the city would be in trouble. The city has its own water rights on the Neosho, but the city’s intake point on the river has been useless for many years after the river changed course and left the intake point dry. Gress said having a viable secondary water source is priceless.
The city’s water plant has the capability to treat up to 3 million gallons of water a day, but the city uses only 1 million to 1.25 million, Derek Clevenger, director of utilities, said, leaving plenty of additional water to offer to the park.
Gress said engineering for the line extension would cost $8,000 to $10,000. Materials would cost $50,000 to $55,000, and the city’s water line crew would do the work.
“We think the positives outweigh the negatives 10 to one,” Gress said.
Ann Charles of the GPDA will attend the commission’s regular meeting Monday evening to discuss the memo of understanding with the commissioners.
Commissioner Frankie Barnett said if the city sells water to the park, the additional water output would require more manpower. Gress said that may be true, but the city will not sell water below cost. Gress said the sale of additional water would benefit the city and its customers by bringing in more revenue that could be used to improve infrastructure within the city.
Barnett asked why the GPDA shouldn’t pay to extend the line to the plant. Gress pointed out that the GPDA will do plenty of work within the park on the water distribution system, and the city could use the park’s system to draw water from the Neosho if ever needed. Gress also said as the park develops, the GPDA may have to build a 12-inch pipe from 13th and Southern to the plant to accommodate the growth.
Barnett said the GPDA has been “dragging their feet for seven years” and suddenly slammed the city with the request for the water line extension at a time when the city wants to embark on a major street improvement project and will have to go further in debt to fix the sewage system. Barnett also said the city should charge the GPDA double for water as it does to residents outside of city limits on the city’s system.
Gress said the contract with the park would be a wholesale contract, similar to the contracts the city uses when it sells water to rural water districts. Wholesale customers buy water by the millions of gallons, he said. Gress also said the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delayed the park from developing, not the GPDA. Now that the GPDA has control over the park, work is getting done.
Mayor Greg York agreed with city staff that the investment would be worth the payback. He said the sale of water to the park would make up for the city’s cost over time, and the city and entire Southeast Kansas area has been “screaming” for years that more jobs are needed here. An agreement with the GPDA would help get the park started on generating those jobs, he said.
Gress said the industrial park, which is the largest in the state, has many features that the city’s industrial parks lack.
“This is a wonderful thing just sitting at our doorstep,” Gress said.
The city manager said a contract with the GPDA would be an asset the city could use to help its customers.
Barnett said increasing water needs could cause the city problems in the future. He said improvements to the plant already have cost the city dearly, and he doesn’t think the plant could be expanded very easily. If the city did have to expand it, the cost is unknown, he said.
Gress said the plant can be expanded. It was designed with future possible expansion in mind. He also said he could provide Barnett with a cost estimate for a possible expansion.
Barnett said the GPDA is trying to find the easy and cheap way out of supplying the park with a water source. Gress said the commission should consider the benefits to the community, and Darrell Moyer, director of public works, said having access to the plant’s dam and water rights would be well worth the investment.
After gaining a property transfer from the U.S. Army and as the hope for new development at the Great Plains Industrial Park builds, the GPDA board prepared to say goodbye to the man who led the effort through most of the seven-year process of acquiring property of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
At Thursday's meeting, board members decided to end the CEO’s position held by Dan Goddard. The intent is to realign the leadership for the industrial park’s future.
Chairman Bob Wood said, “It is with great appreciation, and regret that, we take this step. Dan came here, anticipating a much smoother and quicker property transfer than what occurred, and we thank him for staying with us to provide continued leadership during this very difficult process.”
Goddard came to Parsons after holding the same position in the transfer of the Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana. He is one of only two Local Redevelopment Authority directors in the country who helped a community transfer property through two different BRAC rounds.
A retired colonel from the U.S. Air Force, Goddard’s military background and previous BRAC experience was exactly what the Local Redevelopment Planning Authority was looking for when community members attended an Association of
Dan Goddard (left) is leaving his post as CEO of the Great Plains Development Authority.
Defense Communities conference in 2006. At a newcomers breakfast county commissioner Brian Kinzie introduced himself to the group as coming there to find a director. Moments later Goddard introduced himself as coming there to find a job, having just worked himself out of one at Grissom.
Within a short time Goddard moved to Kansas and immediately immersed himself into the challenge of setting up an office and working through the complicated and detailed process required to transfer the property.
On Aug. 27, the Army added its signature to the deed that completed the transfer of more than 6,800 acres to the Great Plains Development Authority. On Oct. 11, amid all of Kansas’ highest level congressional and state elected officials and 300 guests, Goddard took the stage with his board of directors to cut the red ribbon that officially opened the Great Plains Industrial Park.
Wood said, “Recognizing the need for a transition in leadership that will focus on the economic development future of the industrial park has been difficult for the board. Dan has worked hard for us and has provided critical leadership to make the transfer happen. But at the same time, the board also recognizes its responsibility to the citizens of Labette County to continue to focus on the long-term needs that ensure our success.”
The search for a new director has begun, according to Wood, and an announcement concerning that position will be forthcoming.
|I was proud to participate in the ribbon cutting of the new Great Plains Industrial Park on the former site of the Kansas Army Ammunitions Plant near Parsons. Labette County and the Great Plains Development Authority have returned the property to productive use with the development of the Industrial Park. It was a team effort that I was proud to be a part of over the last seven years, but it simply would not have been possible without the work of Ann Charles and Dan Goddard. This is a picture of Ann and me after the ribbon cutting. I look forward to the new opportunities and the jobs that will be created in Southeast Kansas as a result of years of visionary hard work by the community.|
Celebrating success in Parsons
October 12, 2012
On Thursday, I visited Parsons and attended the groundbreaking for Great Plains Development Authority’s new industrial park. This event was seven years in the making, and recognized a true success story of private industry flourishing, creating jobs, and utilizing a site no longer needed by the federal government.
In 2005, the base realignment and closure process closed the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant near Parsons. Since then, the Great Plains Development Authority, along with local, state, and federal officials, have been working together to turn this 1,400-acre site into something that would benefit the community. There were many challenges, and it would have been easy to let this project get wrapped up in regulations, moving targets, and unfinished completion dates. Instead, the local communities, state and federal agencies, and Congress came together to do something really unique.
Together, we have created a one-of-a-kind location for growth in cutting-edge sectors of our economy – agribusiness, industrial manufacturing, and industrial energy. We were persistent and we worked hard to write letters, hold meetings, submit amendments, and keep the pressure on the agencies to make this happen. It is my hope we can see more of this collaboration in the future.
The possibilities of this site are numerous. Where else can we find a location in a rural setting with urban infrastructure, port access less than 100 miles away, and 26 miles of industrial rail capacity? The acres dedicated to the industrial park will attract new business investment to create jobs and keep top talent in Southeast Kansas.
Congratulations to all involved. A big thanks goes to those that worked on this project, especially Ann Charles and the Great Plains Development Authority for their continued efforts to bring jobs and businesses to this site. I look forward to celebrating many more of these types of successes in Parsons.
Parsons Sun, October 12, 2012
by Colleen Surridge
Just inside the open bay doors to warehouse 1420 in the 1400 area of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, a wooden plaque in the shape of Kansas sat upon an easel atop a table.
Once used to store items for Aerojet, McDonnell Douglas, General Dynamics and Textron Defense System, the building provided the stage for the ceremonial ribbon cutting for the Great Plains Industrial Park (GPIP).
The words on the plaque told the story of why local, state and national officials were gathered there Thursday: "Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Joint Munitions Command 1942-2009, KSAAP, having faithfully served the nation for 67 years is transferred to Great Plains Development Authority, Parsons, Kansas."
Once a part of the arsenal of democracy, providing munitions for World War II, Gov. Sam Brownback told those gathered that the property transferred from the U.S. Army to the Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA) will serve in the arsenal for the Kansas economy.
Brownback said there is a need to grow jobs in Kansas, and the industrial park is a means of making that happen.
Crashing through all the federal red tape to make the transfer happen took more than an act of Congress. It took people willing to "dog it," to see it through to the end, Brownback said.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced in 2005 the KSAAP was slated for closure. Rather than watching former ammunition plant contract-operator Day & Zimmermann Inc. shut down, and having the property sit deteriorating, local citizens stepped forward to find out what needed to be done to enable the property to be transferred from the Army so it could be used as a resource for economic development in Southeast Kansas.
Brian Kinzie and the late Jerry Carson were those who first stepped into the ring, ready to fight for the transfer. The two were soon joined by Ann Charles, County Commissioner Lonie Addis and Parsons City Commissioner Bill Wheat, and other city and county officials and business representatives.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts made the first call to Parsons to announce the KSAAP was on the BRAC closure list and committed himself to helping the community through the process of having the property transferred from the U.S. Army.
Roberts kept his word, aiding the Local Redevelopment Planning Authority that was first formed, and later the GPDA, through the maze of bureaucratic red tape, with letters and calls to the secretary of the Army, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense.
Roberts said Thursday that the common goal of the transfer took place only as a result of the vision, hard work, dedication, patience and flexibility of all those involved.
"Plans are worthless, but planning is everything," Roberts said, quoting Dwight D. Eisenhower. It was the planning on the part of the GPDA that made the transfer such a success story, he said.
Thursday's celebration was long awaited, having taken 7 1/2 years, Great Plains Development Authority chair Bob Wood said, noting it was one of the most challenging projects he has ever been involved in.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, who was in Congress in 2005, also served as a strong ally and a ready advocate.
Moran said there are communities that have a future, and unfortunately, others that do not. The difference is the people — the leaders, those wiling to stand up and go to work on behalf of their communities.
"Southeast Kansas is unique in its willingness to come together ... to come to aid for the mutual benefit of each other," Moran said.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins said the GPDA was already well into the process when she took office, but she was more than happy to help, however she could, to bring the process to completion.
Jenkins said the part she played was small in comparison to the local residents who first initiated discussions of the transfer, and those who came on board as the months passed to help pursue it.
Those are the people, Jenkins said, who committed thousands of hours, taken time away from their careers and families, to commit time, energy and vision to the project. It is because of their efforts, all those present Thursday were celebrating a true success story in their having together created the largest industrial park in Kansas. Not only will their efforts bring new businesses to Parsons along with jobs, "but will help keep the best and the brightest Kansas has to offer right here at home."
Without the cooperation of the U.S. Army in working with the GPDA through the processes of the last 7 1/2 years, no transfer could have taken place. Major Gen. Al Aycock, director of operations, Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management (OACSIM), was essential to the negotiation's process, Wood said.
Army Major Gen. Al Aycock speaks to the more than 275 people gathered for the Great Plains Industrial Park ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday. Behind Aycock, on stage, were Great Plains Development Authority chair Bob Wood, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, Gov. Sam Brownback and Office of Economic Development director Patrick O’Brien.
Aycock said he was approached by Carson and Charles in initial discussions, regarding some means of speeding up the process. Investigating the possibility of early conveyance, Aycock said they found a means of allowing conveyance of the property to the GPDA, while the Army still held ownership.
The question asked by those here in Parsons has enabled the U.S. Army to work with other cities working through BRAC closures.
"We can't thank you enough," Aycock said.
The general also commended those present on the kindness and hospitality he was shown here in Parsons, and said he believes it is the way people should treat one another across the U.S.
Aycock guaranteed the GPDA that the Army would continue to help anyway it could.
Wood said that seven years ago they had thought the transfer could be done in a year, but soon found themselves wrapped up in a very complex, expensive process that neither Labette County nor the state could have or would have funded.
It was only through the OEA's grants to the GPDA totaling $600,000 for legal fees and $4 million for studies, salaries, offices and equipment, that they made it, Wood said, introducing OEA director Patrick O'Brien.
In 2005 O'Brien was called regarding the list of BRAC closures. O'Brien said he met Carson and Kinzie at a couple of the conferences given to help guide communities through the closure process.
"They said we can't fight this, but by God help us overcome it," O'Brien said.
It was those original seeds that were planted with the OEA, and the cooperative efforts of local leadership in the Parsons community, that O'Brien said developed into a strong working relationship with his office.
Property transfers from the U.S. Army to local entities as a result of BRAC closures are incredibly complicated, nonsensical processes. But for local leaders' patience, determination and perseverance, he said the property would not have been conveyed.
"It is yours and you have more than earned it," Roberts said. "And the community is better for your leadership and perseverance."
Returned to the tax rolls for the first time since the U.S. Army took possession of the property in 1941, Wood said the property encompassing a total of nearly 14,000 acres will provide economic stimulus that will have an impact on all of Southeast Kansas, and the state.
Control of the property comes with strings, O'Brien said, but said he wanted to stress that what comes with ownership of the property is opportunities that can be made into jobs.
The jobs are not going to happen overnight, though, O'Brien said. Putting facilities like this back into use takes a lot of money and a lot of years. "Patience is going to be a must," he said."We wish you every success and you will succeed if you work together as a team."
Wood said progress is already being made. The transfer of deed was signed in August, and in September, the GPDA board moved forward for a contract to lease its rail lines to Progress Rail of Albertville, Ala.
That company has already referred a second company to the GPIP. The company's president and vice president have already made one visit to the industrial park, and have started discussions with the GPDA.
Wood said he believes that's where a lot of the GPDA's opportunities are going to come from, companies coming in that tell others "what we've got to offer.
"We are very appreciative to the Army. All-in-all, the Army has been great to work with and they gave us the best opportunity they could, and provided us with the best tools they could, to go out and do something right," Wood said. "I's time now to take off."
by John Milburn
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Seven years after closing a former military installation, officials in southeastern Kansas are preparing to start a new era of regional economic development at a site where thousands of workers once assembled weapons of war.
Dan Goddard, executive director of the Great Plains Development Authority in Parsons, said Wednesday that a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 11 at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant is an important event. But it isn't completion of the goal to put people to work.
"It's not a finish line. It's going to be the starting line. Now the exciting part starts," Goddard said. "Actually, most of the work is ahead of us."
The task will be attracting new companies to help lower Labette County's 8.3 percent unemployment rate.
Pentagon officials designated the plant for closure in 2005, as part of the Base Realignment and Closure process. Production was transferred to ammunition plants in Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
The ammunition plant was historically one of the region's largest employers dating from its construction during World War II. At its height, there were more than 7,300 workers making munitions, but that number tapered off over the years.
After the Army deactivated the site in 2008, weapons manufacturer Day & Zimmermann continued to operate on a portion of the former property. The company was running two shifts through the end of 2012, and is scheduled to acquire some 4,000 acres on Oct. 31.
Goddard said the process to transfer the entire parcel from federal to local control took longer than the five years that was first anticipated. Part of the delay was over environmental concerns for handling potential contamination caused by years of bomb making on the site.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts said the plant's closure presented Kansas many opportunities but that he knew there would be challenges.
"I knew that it was going to be a struggle between the EPA and the Army, and that if Parsons was going to win in the end, we had to carefully shepherd each step in the process," the Republican said Wednesday. "We assembled a team with considerable leadership and after many hurdles Parsons can now take advantage of new opportunities with this development project."
Interest is growing in locating at the reconstituted industrial site. Progress Rail Services, a division of Caterpillar Inc., has opened operation on the grounds, employing about four workers to start, though Goddard said there is potential for expansion.
Southeast Kansas political and economic officials are hoping to pull the region out of its economic doldrums through efforts known as Project 17, a reference to the 17 counties that comprise the region. Historically the area has had some of the highest unemployment rates and lowest health outcomes in Kansas.
Jobless rates in the region range from 9.3 percent in Wilson County to a low of 6 percent in Miami, which borders the Kansas City metro area. The overall Kansas rate was 6.2 percent in August.
Ann Charles, deputy director of the Great Plains Development Authority and former newspaper publisher, sees the potential for regional growth, provided communities "set aside the Friday night football rivalries" that keep them thinking individually and not regionally.
"What I and others see from our property is the opportunity to attract large operations that no single community can pull in on its own," said Charles, a member of Project 17's leadership. "The park is outside of any city limits and I think that helps some, too."
Goddard said there were companies who were interested in the property in recent years but backed away because of the length of the transfer process with the Army. With those issues resolved and the economy trying to rebound he's ready for the phone to start ringing.
"We want a quality development. We want companies that treat their employees right and be here for the long haul," he said.
Parsons Sun, August 16, 2012
Story and photo by Colleen Surridge
James McCarty, Rob Riggin, Pete Rhodes, Steve Lewis, Dan Goddard, Carolyn Kennett, Montie Taylor, George Knox, and vice-chairman Dan Peterson (seated) look on as chairman Bob Wood hands off the signed deed to Gary Beachner.
To accommodate Congress’ efforts to streamline America’s military operations, in May 2005 the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant was placed on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission list.
Seven years and three months of work to acquire the property from the Army to offset the loss of jobs, ensure remediation efforts and the use of the property for economic development in Southeast Kansas culminated Wednesday when the Great Plains Development Authority signed the deed and bill of sale for the transfer of the property from the Army.
"It's a great day," GPDA Chairman Bob Wood told those present at the signing. "We've come a long way to get here."
Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, Rep. Richard Proehl, Pam Henderson from Sen. Jerry Moran's office and city and county officials attended to witness the signing.
Local business owners and operators, the Parsons City Commission and the Labette County Commission responded quickly to BRAC’s announcement in 2005. Late County Commissioner Jerry Carson, County Commissioner Brian Kinzie, then Parsons Mayor Bill Wheat, Parsons Sun Publisher Ann Charles, officials from Day & Zimmermann, and other members of local governmental units and local economic development agencies’ entered into hours of meetings to determine the best approach for all concerned in Parsons, Labette County and Southeast Kansas by forming a Kansas Army Ammunition Plant Redevelopment Task Force.
Of immediate concern was to retain DZI, which had been contracted by the Army to operate the plant, in order for the company to continue to be a part of the Southeast Kansas economic picture.
State government officials and congressional delegates jumped on board and in 2005 Labette County received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to begin early planning for the potential closure of the KSAAP.
The task force learned the county commission needed to form a Local Redevelopment Planning Authority to handle the initial stages of a discussions concerning transfer of the KSAAP from the Army. The Department of Defense approved the KAAP-Local Redevelopment Planning Authority in December 2005.
The LRPA was responsible for forming a Local Redevelopment Authority to handle transfer of all KSAAP real property, infrastructure, manufacturing, equipment and fixtures on the 21.4 square miles, or 13,727 acres, containing 2,200,000 feet of building floor space, 33 miles of railroad, 106 miles of roads and 178 total pond acres. The LRPA hired Dan Goddard as executive director and in November 2008 transitioned from the LRPA to an actual governmental authority (quasi-municipality) named the Great Plains Development Authority, allowing the GPDA to make formal application for the plant and empowering it to receive the property and develop it.
Matrix Design was hired to perform a comprehensive master redevelopment plan consisting of identifying and assessing facilities, major utilities, transportation assets, natural environment and historic features, environmental issues, explosives hazards, county and region socio-economic conditions, property transfer process, redevelopment goals and reuse alternatives and recommending a land use plan and implementation strategy.
Approximately, 2,600 acres was transferred from the Army to the GPDA in 2010. The GPDA signed an Economic Development Conveyance Memorandum of Agreement with Department of the Army in 2010, purchasing 2,600 acres of the KSAAP for $1, Phase I. Then, 2,000 acres were transferred to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism by purchase, for which 75 percent of the money was received from a federal grant and the remaining from state user fees.
The KSAAP transfer to the GPDA was the first completed property transaction from among the 150 U.S. military installations recommended for closure by BRAC.
Phase II's parcel of land, consisting of a remaining 6,116 acres, was to be transferred to the GPDA from the Army within a few months. Wednesday's signing of the transfer of deed from the Army placed the GPDA among the last of the BRAC military installations on the closure list to complete the entire transfer of deed and bill of purchase.
For the remaining 6,116 acres, the GPDA on Wednesday paid the Army $49,999.
The GPDA will make additional payments to the Army from its gross revenues for a 10-year period, not to exceed $3,450,000.
The Redevelopment Authority's obligation to make additional payments will terminate when the 10-year period ends, whether or not the amount of additional payments totals $3,450,000, or when the total $3,450,000 amount of additional payments has been made to the Army.
The Redevelopment Authority may terminate its obligation to make additional payments if at the end of year seven payments in the amount of $3 million have been made.
The GPDA agreed to pay gross revenues from three sources, and payments will vary by calendar year. The GPDA will be required to pay the Army gross revenue from any land sales, from the second parcel of 6,116 acres, at a rate of 25 percent of the revenue in years one through six; 30 percent of the revenue in years seven and eight; and 50 percent of the revenues in years nine and 10.
Gross revenues from operational, industrial and commercial activities will be required to be paid out beginning in year five from the settlement. The rate of pay to the Army will be 5 percent in years five and six; 30 percent in years seven and eight; and 50 percent in years nine and 10.
Also, the GPDA will pay the Army gross revenue from any rail operations beginning after year five from the settlement, at a rate of 5 percent for years six and seven; 30 percent for years eight and nine; and 50 percent for year 10. If the GPDA pays a third party to operate the rails, that amount will be deducted from the amount of gross revenue, and the GPDA will only be required to pay the Army from the remainder of gross revenue acquired from rail operations.
The remaining gross revenue is to be reinvested in the property.
The GPDA is obligated to submit financial statements to the Army certified by an independent certified public accountant showing that during the first 10 years it is using its economic development conveyance proceeds from the sale or lease of the property as reinvestment in further redevelopment the Great Plains Industrial Park.
Reinvestments may be spent on road construction and public buildings; transportation management facilities; storm and sanitary sewer construction; police and fire protection facilities and other public facilities; utility construction; building rehabilitation; historic property preservation; pollution prevention equipment or facilities; demolition; disposal of hazardous materials generated by demolition; landscaping, grading and other site or public improvements; and planning for, or the marketing of, the development and reuse of the installation.
Eighty-eight percent of the plant was determined to be environmentally safe, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Army.
Hazardous waste remediation is nearly complete in the 900 area, and Matrix Environmental Services was contracted by the GPDA Wednesday to complete remediation in the 300, 500, 700 and 800 lines.
A Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) covenant protects the GPDA, community and any future owners of property in the Great Plains Industrial Park, in that if any contamination is found in the future related to the last 70 years the Army operated the KSAAP, the U.S. government will be responsible for clean up.
Goddard said it seemed the deed had been going back and forth for ages, but following the GPDA's signing Wednesday, the deed will be sent with the check for $49,999 to the Army. The Army will sign the deed and return it, at which time the GPDA can file it with the Labette County Register of Deeds Office.
The board also signed an environmental insurance agreement and signed a bill of sale for 5,880 items (furniture, equipment, etc.) of personal property, allowing the GPDA to sell or use the items for incentive in the sale property in the industrial park.
An agreement with Westar Energy was approved as well, upon the Army signing the deed, for the purchase of the electrical distribution system at the industrial park.
"This is the largest and thickest deed I have ever seen," Wood exclaimed, noting all of those who have dedicated years to seeing the transfer through, including the U.S. Army, that created an opportunity for success in transferring the property for economic development.
"These guys have done a fantastic job. ... It is a fantastic opportunity for Southeast Kansas. I congratulate each and everyone of you. You all stayed with it," Proehl said.
"We've come along way since May 2005," Taylor said. "We've got a long way to go still."
Umbarger agreed, stating there is still a lot to be done to develop the plant into the industrial park it is hoped will help drive economic development "that will affect not only Parsons, but Labette County and Southeast Kansas."
|The rail committee for the Great Plains Development Authority toured the railroad buildings and structures Wednesday afternoon at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant east of Parsons. Ann Charles, GPDA deputy director, tells committee members Gary Beachner, Pete Rhodes, (both not pictured) and Carolyn Kennett about the locomotive repair building.|
By Colleen Surridge
Parsons Sun, June 26, 2012
Disappointment loomed Monday evening when those anticipating transfer of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant to the Great Plains Development Authority this week learned the transfer would be delayed.
The GPDA called a special meeting Monday for its board to discuss acquisition of real property and sign the deed, bill of sale and other miscellaneous closing documents in preparation for the transfer of the property from the U.S. Army, which was set to take place at a closing ceremony Friday morning at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The moment is one that those involved in the project have waited seven years to see — ever since the Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced in 2005 it would close the KSAAP.
GPDA executive director Dan Goddard said the board would not sign the deed because an Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement (ESCA) that was to be signed at the same time as the deed would not be ready as had been anticipated.
An ESCA is a grant that enables the Army to provide a local governmental entity funding for cleanup of property being transferred, rather than the entity having to wait on the Army to contract with the Corps of Engineers to finish cleanup of the property before transfer takes place. The grant allows the local entity to contract with a company to conduct environmental remediation necessary to meet state and federal standards.
The GPDA had already received one ESCA for $5 million to fund cleanup of the 900 area, which is nearly complete, with the exception of a few things to be done with soil and crushing the cement. The ESCA that was to be signed with the deed was to provide the GPDA with $17.8 million to complete cleanup of hazardous explosive materials in the 300, 500, 700 and 800 areas, fund environmental insurance and other costs related with management of the ESCA.
Goddard said he had been going back and forth many times during the last week trying to keep the agreement moving along so it would be finished in time for the deed signing.
"It will not be ready at the time of the deed signing," and, therefore, Goddard said, they would have to wait to sign the deed and other documents until such time as the ESCA is ready for signing and cancel the closing ceremony in Washington.
The GPDA signed the memorandum of agreement with the Army more than two years ago for the purchase of the remaining 6,100 acres at the plant. Transfer of 3,000 acres to the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is completed. The only two remaining properties are the Day & Zimmermann Inc. footprint and the 10 acres the administration building sits on, which the Army plans to auction off.
It has been the board's intent from the beginning that both the ESCA and deed would have to be signed simultaneously, because the minute the GPDA signs the deed, it assumes liability of the property. Funding for liability insurance during the cleanup process would come from the ESCA. Signing the deed without the ESCA would have the GPDA assuming ownership with no liability insurance coverage.
"What it all comes down to is us having both the documents signed simultaneously so we know the finance picture as far as out obligations in the future," Goddard said.
"The approval of the ESCA agreement is in the hands of the Corps of Engineers and there is only one person that can commit the funding, so we will have to wait until that's done," Goddard said.
Goddard said it will likely only be a day or two before he finds out when the ESCA will be ready, but for now, he said, they would have their attorney talk with the Army BRAC office to let them know of their canceling the ceremony.
"And we will go from there," Goddard said.
"The board is protecting the community with its decision. If they take over the property without liability insurance, it could mean problems for the community," GPDA deputy director Ann Charles said. "It puts the community at risk should anything happen. The risk is just too great. It is frustrating, but it is the right thing for this community right now."
Goddard thought that everything would be in place by late July for the deed transfer.
On May 4, Sergeant James Schrack and his son Isaac (center two), Oklahoma City, participated in a wounded warrior hunt on the Grand Osage Wildlife Area. Sergeant Schrack had served two tours in Afganistan and was injured by an IED. Both hunters were successful in harvesting their first turkeys. David Edmondson and Jody Adams, both from Baxter Springs, organized the event and guided the two first-time turkey hunters. They also presented the hunters with turkey tags, lodging, and a new shotgun; all compliments of the guides, several local veteran's groups and John's Sports Center, Pittsburg.
Parsons Sun, March 23, 2012 photo by Colleen Surridge
Maj. Gen. Al Aycock paid a visit to the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant Thursday as part of a tour of Army bases impacted by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act. Aycock is the director of operations, Office of the Asisstant Chief of Staff for Installation Management (OACSIM), responsible for overseeing the development and coordination of program requirements, strategy and policies pertaining to facilties, military constructions, energy and BRAC properties that support Army objectivies and improves the quality of life for soldiers, civillians and families. Aycock began his visit in Parsons with lunch that included Don Dailey, KSAAP commander’s representative (far left); Dan Goddard, Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA); Ann Charles, GPDA deputy director; and other Army personnell. He was joined on his visit by Pentagon officials Tom Lederle and Hank Proctor, who are assisting in the transfer of KSAAP property to GPDA.
By Colleen Surridge
Parsons Sun, March 9, 2012
The U.S. Army is nearing transfer of the remainder of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant property that falls within its footprint to the Great Plains Development Authority.
“We are in the final stages of shoring up the details with the Army,” GPDA chief executive director Dan Goddard said on Thursday.
As several anticipated transfer dates have come and gone, Goddard would only state that the transfer is “imminent — in the very near future.”
The GPDA board of directors learned about the imminent transfer of property during a Thursday meeting. The GPDA plans to incorporate the land into the Great Plains Industrial Park.
Although the GPDA signed a transfer agreement with the Army more than two years ago for the remaining 6,700 acres it was working to acquire for economic development, the transfer was delayed because negotiations between the Army and munitions manufacturer Day & Zimmermann for 4,000 acres on which the company is situated continued.
Until last month, the GPDA was still in limbo, awaiting D&Z to finish negotiations, because the actual transference of all the land had to coincide because of regulations involved in the two entities splitting the hazardous waste permit.
One part of the permit was for D&Z as owner/operator, with D&Z being responsible for environmental cleanup, not the Army. The other part was for the GPDA as owner, and the Army as operator of the 6,700 acres until the Army finishes cleanup, for which the Army is responsible according to its contract with GPDA.
As D&Z negotiations continue to drag on, the GPDA sought permission to split the hazardous waste permit, separating the GPDA from D&Z, so it could move forward with its land transfer, Goddard explained.
“We met with Army representatives at the last Association of Defense Communities Conference the end of February and worked out the details of the transfer and future explosive environmental remediation,” Goddard said. “Where we are now is, with our memorandum of agreement with the Army we have made last-minute changes based on the current situation, because there have been a few changes from a couple of years ago when we signed it.”
Once both sides’ legal departments OK the agreement, the transfer can be finalized.
“We’ll have a lot of papers to have to sign, and we will have to file a deed, but once it is ours we will move outward with our marketing and development of the industrial park,” Goddard said.
Once the transfer is complete, there will be a long process in getting the industrial plant flourishing.
“The biggest change is we will be able to say we own the property, which will give industries more confidence in the process,” Goddard said. “Before, we had to tell those interested that we don’t own the property, and we weren’t sure when we would, so they moved on into other locations because they couldn’t put their plans on hold.”
Anticipation of getting the ball rolling in creating jobs through creating investment opportunities in what will be one of the biggest industrial parks in the U.S. is growing because the GPDA is no longer hamstrung from being able to market property to industry.
“The minute the transfer takes place, there will be a 90-degree turn, and we will be very heavy into marketing of the property,” Goddard said.
Residents may have smelled smoke in the area of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant March 1.
“The smoke was the result of a wildfire that came onto the plant from off plant,” Goddard said. “The wildfire burned about 350 to 400 acres of grassland and leaves. The Parsons Fire Department, Neosho Township, Oswego Fire Department and Mount Pleasant Department from Altamont all responded, with everything under control by Thursday (March 1) evening, but the smell of smoke continued for a couple of days because of a few smoldering, dead trees.”
To lesson the possibility of any similar incidents, Goddard said the GPDA has begun controlled burns on the plant.
“We did one on Monday where we burned another 350 to 400 acres to lessen the danger of wildfires,” he said. “We will be continuing the burns for several weeks, when the weather permits, because we have to wait until it is the right temperature, humidity and wind direction.
“So if people smell smoke coming from the plant in the next few weeks, we just wanted them to know it is probably because of the controlled burns.”
Parsons Sun, January 3, 2012
Brick by brick, chunk by chunk, a piece of Kansas Army Ammunition Plant history came down Monday.
Gator Demolition of Joplin, a subcontractor for Matrix Environmental Services, Denver, used an excavator to knock away walls, floors and roofing from the melt-pour tower of Building 905 in the 900 area, where TNT was melted and eventually poured into mortar shells in years past.
The building, too contaminated to clean up and reuse, was destroyed instead while the Great Plains Development Authority works to bring industry to the new Great Plains Industrial Park, according to Dan Goddard, GPDA executive director. Day & Zimmermann Inc., which manufactured munitions at the plant even after it was placed on an Army closure list in 2005, retains three melt-pour towers on what it hopes will be its portion of the industrial park.
The plant was listed on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list in May 2005 as part of the military’s downsizing. Day & Zimmermann, the long time contract munitions manufacturer at the plant, is negotiating with the Army to buy a 4,000 acre parcel to continue production.
At the time of the BRAC announcement, the plant contained 13,727 acres. The GPDA, which owns 600 acres on the grounds, was formed under Department of Defense guidelines to acquire the bulk of the property for a mega-site industrial park. The total property contains 33 miles of rail, 106 miles of road, its own water and wastewater operations and other amenities that make it ideal for industrial operations.
Since BRAC, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism purchased 3,000 acres, renaming the parcel Grand Osage Wildlife Area. Access there remains restricted as explosive remediation efforts are conducted on adjacent land. GPDA is in the final days of negotiations to purchase the remaining 6,100 acres. The 67,000 square-foot administration building will be sold separately.
TNT was used as an explosive in mortars and missiles produced at the plant for nearly 70 years under contract through the Department of Defense until final production ended in December 2009, Goddard said in a prepared statement. Flakes of the yellow-gold explosive were poured into melting kettles and became liquid at 176 degrees. Liquid TNT was poured into casings, where it cooled and became a solid again.
Boilers created the steam used to melt the TNT. The three-story melt-pour tower was not heated or air conditioned, so temperatures were never comfortable inside for the workers.
“It was a very, very hot operation,” Goddard said Monday. “It got pretty hot up in there.”
The air inside was humid from the steam and temperatures reached close to 100 degrees or higher in the summer time.
Escape slides had been removed from the higher windows in the tower, but a building nearby, called the shaker building, where TNT was screened for foreign material, still had an escape slide from a window.
According to historic data the maximum number of people working at the plant during one day was 7,358 during World War II. During the Vietnam War, nearly 4,000 people were employed and as recently as the Gulf War more than 1,300 drove in from as far as 70 miles away.
Day & Zimmermann still has about 90 employees doing work in a limited capacity as it rebuilds its operation as a private-bid company.
Remediation of the plant has been ongoing for nearly 20 years, Goddard said, however the BRAC announcement intensified those efforts.
GPDA was awarded an Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement by the Army for $4.8 million in 2010 that includes the current demolition project and others.
Parsons Sun, December 31, 2011
The Parsons Fire Department will continue offering protection to the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
The Parsons City Commission approved a contract during a Thursday work session to allow the fire department to continue offering firefighting services to the former plant.
The U.S. Army is in the process of transferring the property at the plant to the Great Plains Development Authority. The GPDA already has received ownership of some of the land that will be used to develop the Great Plains Industrial Park. While the transfer date for the rest of the property hasn’t been determined, the GPDA needs a plan to provide caretaker services for the Army.
The contract the commission approved is the same as one in effect for Day and Zimmermann Inc., the former contract-operator of the plant. D&Z is the caretaker of the plant property now, but that will change with the new year, so a contract with GPDA was needed.
Fire Chief Larry Steeby told commissioners he’s not sure if D&Z will renew its contract for fire protection for its property in the park. D&Z is in negotiations for the transfer of 4,000 acres in the park to continue production there.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism also owns 3,000 acres in the park in the new Grand Osage Wildlife Area. Steeby said KWPT will be covered by area township volunteer fire departments because KWPT does not have a budget for a fire contract with the city.
In the future, the GPDA will sign a contract for a caretaker of the park, Steeby said, and at that time the new caretaker could contract with the city for fire protection services or rely on the volunteer fire departments.
Under the terms of the city’s contract with GPDA, the fire department will be paid $500 per run to the park, with Neosho Township, Oswego and Altamont volunteer fire departments being paid $300 apiece if they assist.
Steeby said last year was the busiest of three years under the contract with D&Z. The department responded to four or five minor fires, including one small structure fire. The runs lasted just a couple of hours at a time.
Steeby explained that if the fire department gets a call for a fire at the park, the department responds if it has available personnel. If not, a volunteer fire department is called to respond. The fire department will have only three firefighters and one truck at a time respond to a fire at the former plant, leaving two other trucks and other firefighters available to fight fires in town. The department also can page or text off-duty firefighters to report for duty if further help is needed.
The entire plant property covers 13,727 acres.
By Ray Nolting
Parsons Sun, December 20, 2011
OSWEGO — The Labette County Sheriff’s Department will provide roving and stationary security for the Great Plains Industrial Park, formerly the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
Starting Jan. 1, the sheriff’s department will have someone posted at the gate for 52 hours a week for 30 days. The Great Plains Development Authority can renew this contract on a month-to-month basis.
The sheriff also will provide roving patrols of the plant grounds by deputies, equaling about 28 hours a week. This contract will be for six months, but it could be renewed.
The Labette County Commission on Monday approved the contract for law enforcement services on a 3-0 vote.
The county will be paid $25,291.22 for the six months of patrol work and the 30 days of staffing the main gate, but this amount would change if the county has to continue staffing the gate.
The U.S. Army has not yet transferred remaining acreage at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant to the GPDA, but that transfer is tentatively set for next week.
Sheriff Robert Sims said he is considering deputizing retired law enforcement officers to man the gate on a part-time basis. Regular deputies would provide the roving patrols.
September 20, 2011
OSWEGO — Labette County Commissioners on Monday accepted zoning rules for the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant land. The new regulations will be in effect for land that has already been transferred from the U.S. Army to the Great Plains Development Authority. The only exception is the land transferred to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, because the county can’t zone land owned by the state or federal governments, plus the wildlife land is mostly agricultural and used for hunting. The Labette County Planning Commission has already approved the regulations, and the county commission needed to act on them so they would fall into place when the remaining portion of U.S. Army land is transferred to the GPDA and Day and Zimmermann next month. County planners had already adopted a comprehensive plan for the Great Plains Industrial Park, and approving the zoning rules was required to get the park ready for the final land transfer.The former KSAAP takes up more than 13,000 acres and has been the site of ammunition production since World War II. Day and Zimmermann Inc. manufactures weapons there.
Parsons Sun, August 31, 2011
Cam Salyers has been hired by the Great Plains Development Authority as its environmental specialist. Salyers will be responsible for the long-term monitoring, compliance and recordkeeping required by environmental agencies at the Great Plains Industrial Park, formerly the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
In its acquisition of 6,700 acres of the property, GPDA will assume the long-term monitoring previously established on the grounds, as well as all anticipated monitoring required of the current and future remediation of production sites. As part of the transfer the Army will provide funding, in advance, for GPDA monitoring needs.
Matrix Environmental Services, Denver, provides environmental consultation for GPDA during its negotiations with the Army, and the company has the contract for the remediation of the 900 Area. Salyers’ employment with the authority ensures continuity between what is negotiated for monitoring and the execution and long-term compliance of those requirements, GPDA officials said.
Salyers is a native Parsonian, a graduate of Parsons High School, and holds a bachelor of arts in environmental studies from the University of Kansas.
Parsons Sun, August 30, 2011
The Labette County Commission agreed to rent a building at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant from Great Plains Development Authority to store salt and sand. Instead of rent the county will clear snow from Scott Road inside the plant grounds south into what will be Day and Zimmermann Inc. property and 23000 Road from Scott Road west to the plant entrance at 23000 and Rooks. Commissioner Brian Kinzie said this agreement will make county crews responsible for removing snow on about 2 ½ to three miles of road inside the industrial park. The building will require some work by the county to make sure the salt doesn’t damage the concrete.
by Vanessa Lee
Southeast Kansas Business Journal
The Great Plains Development Authority is currently in the process of acquiring the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant from the U. S. Army. It will be renamed the Great Plains Industrial Park. A multi-use facility, it contains approximately 13,700 acres. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks owns 3,000 of these acres known as the Grand Osage Wildlife area. Dan Zimmerman, the munitions manufacturer here will have 4,000 acres transferred to them and will continue to operate. The balance of the property will come to the Great Plains Development Authority and will be developed over time as a mixed use of an industrial and commercial park. They currently own 600 acres, but hopefully, by the end of this summer, after five years of intensive negotiations, the transfer of the remaining 6,100 acres will occur, giving them a total of 6,700 acres for development.
Currently, the GPDA is going through an environmental cleanup program. The Army is doing a lot of the work through the Corps of Engineers, but they have just started working with the Army and have a contract for explosive decontamination of munitions production facilities. They are working in partnership with Matrix Environmental Services, based out of Denver, who have their people on the plant to decontaminate the buildings that are closely contaminated. Those buildings will be completely torn down. The slabs will be removed and the soil remediated to make sure all the explosives are out of the footprint of the buildings. Dan Goddard, the Chief Executive Officer of the GPDA states, “We have an awful lot of property that is virgin territory. It has seen no use other than agriculture or wildlife since the 1940’s. And that’s because the Army needed to have a very large tract of ground to provide safety arcs in the event there was an explosion in one of the production facilities or in one of the munitions storage facilities to protect the people that live outside the plant boundaries.”
The Great Plains Industrial Park is in the process of being zoned for Labette County, which should be completed by the end of the summer. The property has been divided and there will be large single-owner tracts that will be attractive to industries who need them. There are also 33 miles of rail on the plant that are connected to the Union Pacific southbound mainline, which puts the park 90 miles away from the Port of Catoosa by rail and gives it access to not only the port, but all the waterways in the eastern United States and also the Gulf of Mexico for shipment of goods, making it an attraction to manufacturing and distribution facilities.
The park will have its own water system and sewage system. Westar Energy will be providing electricity and AT&T will provide telephone service. Farmers who currently lease land from the Army for cattle grazing, hay farming, soybean and corn farming will become the first source of revenue for the new industrial park. Operation of the water and sewage systems will be at a loss until they can generate revenues through use of the park.“We anticipate that once we do own the property that picture will change and that we will be able to start the development,” Dan Goddard says. “ We are under no illusions. Developing 6700 acres is huge. That puts approximately 50% of the large tracts of industrial property in the State of Kansas right here in Labette County. So it is very big.”
Goddard continues, “Development of the park really hinges on a couple of factors; one is proximity to transportation to get products to market or bring in raw materials. When you think of a project of this size and the relatively sparse population of Southeast Kansas rural communities, the most important factor and my biggest concern is the labor force — having employees that are trainable and ready to go to work. People ask me all the time how do you work with that kind of situation? I always tell them that it takes a real community. We want to see kids stay in school and graduate from high school. We want to see them acquire skills so that they can improve their position in life as we bring companies in. We aren’t interested in companies that are going to just pay minimum wage. We want companies that are going to pay a living wage. That will be good for us, and it will also be good for the development of community outside of the industrial park. Hopefully this will attract people here to build homes and become a permanent part of Southeast Kansas.”
Another bonus of the GDPA is the recreational area known as the Osage Wildlife Area. It contains 3,000 acres of undisturbed land since the 1940’s and a white-tail deer herd. Preserving the quality of the wildlife and the habitat are important. There will be guided hunts with bow and arrow and gun by lottery. With the lottery system, someone in Parsons or the surrounding area has the same opportunity as somebody from Michigan or Wisconsin or Florida to be able to hunt. Kansas is the number one state in the union for the opportunity to take a trophy buck. Last year there were two hunts in November with a high success rate among the hunters.
Base closures bring some fear and anxiety to any community, because of jobs lost and the transition of military families out of the area which affects the economy of the area. But in the end, the community becomes more prosperous with the use of the added facilities to bring fresh new business and industry to the area. What was once transitory becomes a home grown development that will have people who are born in the area, graduate from high school and go on to raise families and have careers in the same place. With this new industrial park, Southeast Kansas has the potential to become one of these places.
For more information about the GDPA contact Dan Goddard at 620-421-1228 or visit the Web site: www.greatplainsindustrialpark.com.
Parsons Sun, June 3, 2011
Story and photo by Jamie Willey
Roberts refers to a coffee mug commemorating the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant's operation from 1941 to 2009 during a speech to the Parsons Rotary Club on Thursday. Roberts said he is disappointed that two years after the plant's closing most of the land there has yet to be transferred to the Great Plains Development Authority, which plans to open a large industrial park there.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said on Thursday that he will continue working toward busting the logjam created by three agencies that has delayed the transition of land to the Great Plains Development Authority.
The senator made his remarks, and also ranted against the many regulations that slow down economic progress, during the Parsons Rotary Club meeting.
Roberts said although the U.S. Army closed the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant east of Parsons in 2009, the transfer of the bulk of the land to the GPDA has not been accomplished. The GPDA plans to use the land to develop the Great Plains Industrial Park.
Roberts said the transfer has been delayed because instead of working together, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the U.S. Department of Defense have been adversaries in the issue of contamination cleanup at the former plant.
He said the GPDA and others involved in trying to get the remaining land at the plant transferred should have to deal only with the KDHE, which should help the GPDA in dealing with the EPA.
“I’m not quite sure what my office is going to do, but I have had it up to here,” Roberts said.
Roberts then went on what he called a rant about the many federal regulations that hold back progress in the U.S. He said the Small Business Administration has said that regulations cost the U.S. economy $1.75 trillion in 2008. There are even more regulators in Washington, D.C., now than there was then, and Roberts said they are not “twiddling their thumbs.”
Unnecessary regulations cost the U.S. many jobs and takes money away from people because businesses must pass along the cost of the regulations to consumers, Roberts said.
The senator said President Barak Obama has issued an executive order to look at all regulations and the ones being proposed and determine if the costs of the regulations outweigh their benefit. There are many loopholes in this order, though, Roberts said.
For example, the EPA has said it is exempt because its regulations are for the good of the public. Roberts said he would defy anyone to define the criteria in the executive order, which he said has unclear language.
Roberts said he has written legislation that removes all of the loopholes. He has 50 sponsors of the legislation and plans to get 10 more before attaching it to every bill that comes forward.
Roberts said he is not against clean air or clean water, but the EPA has gone too far.
The agency is bringing forward regulations that had been long forgotten because they weren’t viable. For example, in the 1970s, the EPA took issue with rural fugitive dust. When asked about it, an EPA official asked Roberts if he realizes how much dust is stirred up in the air in western Kansas. Roberts said he told the official that yes, there is a lot of dust there, but he asked if the EPA had any suggestions on how to control it instead of just issuing fines.
The EPA official said county trucks should spray rural roads with water twice a day.
When Roberts asked if there was any funding for trucks or a supply for that much water, the EPA official had no answer. The EPA at one time also tried to regulate what it called navigable waters in farm ponds, Roberts said, even though no one would want to swim in most farm ponds. The EPA is still bringing forward such regulations still today.
“It looks like to me they just pulled out the files from the 1970s and they’re back, except this time they don’t even realize how silly it is,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he hopes to break loose the jam of regulations holding up transfer of what he said overall is a postage stamp-size of land at the former plant. He and his office have worked closely with the GPDA, Roberts said, and will continue to do so. Roberts, who at times during his presentation seemed aggravated, said the best thing his staff can do is to keep him calm and see if they can solve the cleanup and regulation issue at the plant.
Also on Thursday, Roberts spoke about the tornado that devastated Joplin. He said his thoughts and prayers are with everyone there, and he said Parsons knows first-hand about the force Mother Nature can unleash following the tornado here in April 2000.
Roberts said he will be in Reading on Friday, another community that was hit by a recent tornado, to see how he can help.
In addressing a question about ethanol subsidies, Roberts said he does not like mandates, tariffs or subsidies, and the U.S. has all three with ethanol, yet Kansas is a big ethanol producer. There will be amendments dealing with ethanol on the Senate floor, and senators will have meaningful conversations about ethanol, Roberts said.
He said he doesn’t want to do anything to harm the ethanol industry in Kansas, but he also doesn’t want to negatively affect people raising livestock and growing feedstock. The use of corn to make ethanol drives up the price of the crop, making it more expensive to feed livestock.
“I don’t want to kill the ethanol industry, but I do think we can massage it a little,” Roberts said about ethanol subsidies.
Roberts also addressed a question from Labette Health CEO Jodi Schmidt about rural health care.
He said the rural health care delivery system is under threat, and the people in Congress representing rural communities must do what they can to save it. Roberts said he will do whatever he can.
Parsons Sun, May 18, 2011
Matrix Environmental Services employees Steve Harsh and Terry Kiser (in hard hats) explain to Great Plains Development Authority board members how a blower skid will supply air to a burner a decontamination process. Matrix is in the process of a heat-decontamination of smaller buildings at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
Parsons Sun, March 25, 2011
By Jamie Willey
Gov. Sam Brownback pledged his support in helping develop the Great Plains Industrial Park during a visit to Parsons on Thursday afternoon.
Brownback toured the industrial park that is the former site of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant. He also toured the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center and Southeast Kansas Independent Living.
Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said the governor planned the trip to Parsons about a month ago to see the industrial park and learn more about the Great Plains Development Authority’s vision for the park as well as the challenges it faces. He also wanted to tour PSHTC to meet with workers and residents there and to learn more about the research partnership between the hospital and the University of Kansas research center on the campus.
Brownback said he and others have been working to quicken the transfer of land from the U.S. Army to the GPDA so economic development efforts can begin in earnest. He said the holdup is an argument between the Army and the Environmental Protection Agency on environmental cleanup. Brownback said the transfer of land at the industrial park needs to move forward, and he is hopeful that it will soon.
Besides pushing for the transfer of land, Brownback said the state can help Great Plains Industrial Park develop to its full potential by having the Kansas Department of Commerce making it one of the prime targets of industries looking for a place to locate in the state. With its 33 miles of railroad track and other infrastructure, the park should be an attractive place for private businesses, Brownback said. He said the infrastructure in place will help him as he pitches the park to industries looking to locate or relocate to the region.
Brownback’s visit to PSHTC marked the first time he had been to the facility. He said after speaking to the research staff there, he was very impressed with the work being done. The staff is very dedicated, Brownback said, and the research being done there is significant on a national and international level.
“It’s a beautiful partnership,” Brownback said of the work of KU and PSHTC staff.
Speaking about the possible closure of Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka, Brownback said it remains to be seen if it will happen. A commission recommended the closing of KNI, with some of its residents moving into the public and some moving to PSHTC, but Brownback said the Legislature will have to budget for the change.
Brownback said if the state moves toward closing KNI, it’s possible that PSHTC’s population would grow as a result. He said he met a number of residents at PSHTC on Thursday who came from Winfield State Hospital when that facility closed several years ago.
“There is a possibility that there would be some KNI residents who would move here,” Brownback said.
Much of Brownback’s first couple of months in office have been spent on budget issues. He said the state is facing a $490 million budget deficit next fiscal year, and he has proposed changes that would balance the budget. He thinks the budget will get balanced without raising taxes. Still, the state is facing more financial trouble in the years to come. That’s why Brownback has been investigating how the state can be run more efficiently.
Despite the budget shortfall and the challenges that it presents early in his term as governor, Brownback said he has enjoyed his new job so far.
“I love this job. This is a fabulous job,” Brownback said.
Parsons Sun, February 22, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In 2008, the Kansas Army Ammunitions Plant near Parsons was closed by the Department of Defense. Since then, many local, private sector developers have lined up to develop the land and create jobs, but an EPA regulatory overreach and an ensuing bureaucratic turf war between the EPA and the Department of Defense has kept this land on the federal docket and out of the private sector’s reach, according to U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ office.
On Friday, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (a Kansas Republican) filed an amendment to H.R. 1, the FY11 Continuing Resolution being debated on the House floor last week. If passed, Jenkins’ amendment will restrict the EPA from using government funds to promote this regulatory overreach that is hampering economic growth and job creation in Labette County.
Jenkins released the following statement after filing her amendment:
“As I have said before, the first priority of this Congress must be to get government out of the way so the private sector can start hiring again. This situation in Parsons is the perfect example of an overzealous regulatory agency eliminating real jobs in rural America. The $100 billion of cuts in the Continuing Resolution offered by House Republicans this week is a first step toward achieving our goal, but we must also address the overbearing job destroying regulations promulgated by the executive branch. My amendment does just that by prohibiting the government funding of an EPA overreach that is hampering job growth in eastern Kansas,” Jenkins said.
“My colleagues in the Kansas delegation and I have asked numerous times for the EPA to cite where they have the authority to hold up this land transfer, and have received two responses telling us their official response will be forthcoming. It’s time to end the Washington run-around and create jobs in Kansas. To the EPA, Labette County is just another spot on a map and the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant is just another piece of paper, but this isn’t just a spot or a piece of paper. The people in Labette County are real people with real families and Washington bureaucrats need to stop exploiting them to prove a point. It is my hope that this amendment will pass, and the EPA will remove this barrier to job creation.”
Parsons Sun, November 10, 2010
By Colleen Surridge
Following many months of sampling and analysis, Matrix Environmental Services has begun the process of decontaminating the 900 line at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant.
Matrix was hired by the Great Plains Development Authority to oversee the project, pursuant to an environmental services agreement, which the GPDA was awarded by the Army for decontamination of the 900 Area. The original contract was for $4.3 million.
“Ever since June we’ve had eight people out here full time, sampling and getting ready to decontaminate. We started doing decon this last week,” said Peggy Llewellyn, Matrix senior project manager. “What we are doing is explosives decontamination.”
In the remaining 6,116 acres to be transferred from the U.S. Army to the Great Plains Development Authority, there are several old munitions production lines. Matrix will handle the assessment of the production lines and decontamination of the 900 line.
“There were five production lines that are going to be in the Great Plains Development Authority’s footprint. Each production line consisted of roughly 50 buildings,” Llewellyn said. “The first step is assessing the buildings. We collected about 6,000 samples from three of the production lines. We still need to do two.”
In testing, Llewellyn said Matrix is looking for five primary classes of explosives, which at the KSAAP involves about 10 to 20 different chemical compounds.
Some of the explosives are primary compounds used to set the charge in explosives and are extremely sensitive, while others are secondary compounds that provide the “big bangs with lots of power,” but are not as sensitive, she said.
The process of decontamination of buildings is fairly new, being developed following several incidents of explosions at facilities in the 1980s and 1990s. At the Grand Island facility in Nebraska, a worker cutting into a wall with a torch led to massive explosions.
Complete decontamination is necessary, even if the buildings will be razed.
What was discovered in inspecting other facilities, Llewellyn said, was that explosive dust was found to have accumulated in the duct work, piping and inside concrete walls. At one facility she worked on, she said workers opened up one of the concrete block walls that had a crack in it and found explosive dust mounding up inside the wall after years of accumulation. Facilities such as the KSAAP would often hose down the floors in production line buildings, which served their purposes well. However, she said, concrete is absorbent and therefore the floors of some of the buildings contain high amounts of explosives.
“In significant buildings, in terms of where they handled raw explosives, it can get into the cracks and crevices. These buildings were built much more sturdy, with 1 foot thick concrete walls on 1 to 4-foot thick concrete slabs,” she said. “They are very sturdy buildings with blast walls, so if during production, if there was an unintentional detonation it would prevent impact on other areas. They were designed for safety, so taking them down is tricky, because the buildings are so strong.”
“The process we go through when we start decontaminating is to characterize the waste.The floors have explosive residue, old paint chips in the dirt, animal droppings and any number of things. We collect samples of the matter and send it to the lab to determine how to handle it,” Llewellyn said.
“We start with floor sweeping, and send that off for disposal or incineration. We use specialized high volume explosive-proof vacuum cleaners, because we don’t want to set off any sparks or friction,” she said. “After that, we remove the pipes and the lighting in the buildings. Sometimes we have to go in and take out walls. Then we go in with high pressure washers and wash down the buildings using 5 to 20,000 psi (pressure per square inch) to wash them.”
“In smaller buildings we use thermal invection heating with hot gas that reaches temperatures of 400 degrees in the building, which thermally decomposes explosives without detonation.
“With larger buildings, it is not technically feasible to heat them to 400 degrees, so we use the high pressure washers,” Llewellyn said.
The processes used for decontamination interferes with structural stability of the buildings, because under use of high pressure washing, mortar crumbles, or sometimes they have to take out a wall. This means a loss of some of the most structurally sound buildings on the 900 line.
With the limited buildings, where little decontamination is needed, we don’t have to use the same level of treatment, so they can often be saved,” she said. “We can use a low pressure wash, maybe steam cleaning.”
Many of the materials, once decontaminated, can be recycled and used for other projects at the industrial park.
Matrix Environmental’s focus is on explosive cleanup, but when it comes into contact with other environmental issues, such as asbestos within buildings, workers must deal with those contaminants as well.
Llewellyn said such matters will mean Matrix subcontracting with local and area companies as bids complete the review process and are let.
The waste pulled from the buildings will be put into barrels to be hauled off by a waste management broker and another company will be subcontracted to manage asbestos abatement.
“Our goal is also to hire local contractors when we are able to,” she said. “We are putting out waste management bids now,” Llewellyn said.
“It will be spring probably before we are ready to start demo-ing buildings, which we will hire other contractors for,” she said. “From the time we hit the field, it is about an 18-month process. There’s a lot of work to do.”
Parsons Sun, September 11, 2010
Story and photo by Ray Nolting
(From left) Kansas state Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, Labette County Commission Chairman Brian Kinzie, Secretary of Wildlife and Parks Mike Hayden and Parsons Economic Development Director Carolyn Kennett visit before a ceremony Friday to transfer land from the Army to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
Friday marked a new chapter in Kansas wildlife conservation with the ceremonial transfer of about 2,000 acres of land to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
Though the final paperwork was not complete for Friday’s ceremony, Wildlife and Parks officials were excited for the future public use of the 3,000-acre park, named the Grand Osage Wildlife Area. The KDWP already received about 1,000 acres of land for the wildlife area, and Friday’s transaction was for the remaining 2,000 acres.
The transfer paperwork is expected to be complete next week to make the transfer and purchase official.
The transfer is part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s process of decommissioning the 13,727-acre Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, authorized in 2005. Wildlife and Parks actually purchased the property, getting 75 percent of the money from a federal grant and the remaining portion from state user fees.
Wildlife and Parks Secretary Mike Hayden was keynote speaker Friday, but other state and local officials attended. Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, a Thayer Republican, and Sen. Stephen Morris, a Hugoton Republican, attended, as did Rep. Richard Proehl, a Parsons Republican.
Hayden, who formerly hosted a fishing tournament at Big Hill Lake while he served as the state’s 41st governor, is an outdoor enthusiast.
He said the Great Plains Development Authority, which will oversee the plant once all the land is transferred by the Army, has been a great group to work with. Wildlife and Parks has been walking through new territory with this process, and he called the working relationship a “great partnership.”
The 3,000 acres will need a lot of work to create an even better hunting and fishing Mecca. Hayden said hedge, cedar and locust trees eventually will be removed, brome and fescue will be switched to native grasses, and ponds will be restocked with daily creel limits set.
“So it will be gradual,” Hayden said of the changes at Grand Osage Wildlife Area. “But we’re dedicated to making it work.”
Four deer hunts are already planned for the area this year:
The first takes place today and Sunday for youth from this region.
The second occurs in two legs, Oct. 29 to Nov. 14 and Nov. 15-30. Forty archers won slots for this deer hunt and 20 will hunt in the first two-week segment and 20 in the final two weeks. There were 300 applicants for the 40 slots.
Catch A Dream Hunt, which is planned for a youth suffering from a serious disease in December during rifle season.
A wounded warrior hunt is set for December as well, for wounded veterans.
Jim Zaleski, Labette County tourism director, said these hunts will bring people from across the United States. Hunters are expected from Florida, Michigan and Texas.
“So we are looking for at least some impact from that,” he said.
Rob Riggin, who manages the Mined Land Area for Wildlife and Parks, will manage Grand Osage until the department budget allows for staffing at the wildlife area. Future hunts on the land will be by a lottery method.
Wildlife officials hoped to have the area ready for a spring turkey hunt and perhaps some of the 12 ponds in Grand Osage open for fishing after that. Many plans are still being developed.
“Just a lot of unknowns,” Riggin said.
Security remains at the plant, an issue that will need to be worked out before plans progress too far for extensive hunting and fishing.
Riggin said KDWP is working with the Great Plains Development Authority on an agreement to manage the entire plant grounds for wildlife conservation.
Sean Lynott, a fisheries biologist for Wildlife and Parks, will survey the ponds at Grand Osage and make recommendations for stocking, creel limits and weight and length limits for the fish.
“It’s the beginning,” he said.
Lance Hedges, public lands supervisor for Wildlife and Parks, toured the wildlife area with media after Friday’s ceremony.
He said the crop and pasture leases will be honored and farmers will be able to bid on the farmland and cattle pastures once the leases expire. Soybeans grew in many fields Friday; corn had been harvested and hay baled.
Hedges said there are no buildings on the Wildlife and Parks land, and only a few roads.
Building 52, which was Fire Station No. 1 at the intersection of Road D and Road 2 on GPDA land, will be used for a Grand Osage Wildlife Area park office.
Lots of work is needed to manage the area, things that Hayden touched on earlier.
“This is unlike anything we’ve ever done,” Hedges said.
Joplin Globe, September 7, 2010
Southeast Kansas hunters will soon get another 3,000 acres of public land to hunt turkeys and whitetail deer.
On Friday, the Great Plains Development Authority in Labette County will turn over 2,000 acres of the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. That land, along with 1,000 acres the KDWP already has acquired nearby, will create one of the larger tracts of state-owned public hunting land in Kansas.
The Great Plains Development Authority is a board of nine members appointed by the county commission as the primary point of contact with the U.S. Department of Defense as it shuts down the ammunition plant.
Work ceased at the plant in 2008 with several hundred employees, but during World War II as many as 7,000 people worked there, according to Dan Goddard, chief executive officer of the development authority.
He said the development authority is actually taking possession of 8,700 acres, and, after giving 2,000 acres to the state, will use the remaining land for mixed-use industrial development.
Labette Avenue, September 1, 2010
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks secretary, Mike Hayden, will be in Parsons next Friday, Sept. 10, for a deed-signing ceremony with the Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA).
The event will mark the transfer of 2,000 acres of unique Kansas habitat to the department. This acquisition was part of the now closed Kansas Army Ammunition Plant. KDWP previously acquired another 1,000 acres of the property directly from the U.S. Army.
The 13,727-acre ammunition plant was established in 1941 as part of the WWII support effort and remained in production through Dec. 2008. It was listed on the Congressional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list in 2005, and its mission has been relocated to other facilities. The GPDA is a quasi-municipal corporation focused on acquisition of large tracts of industrial property for multi-purpose development.
Tracts acquired by KDWP are part of the thousands of acres that were outside the former production areas, and which served as safety buffer zones. With limited access, exceptional populations of white-tailed deer and turkey have developed. In 2009, Outdoor Life magazine named the area the No. 7 best for white-tailed deer hunting in the U.S.
Hayden commented on the project, “It is truly remarkable to turn this past war machine property to peace time use. It’s especially rewarding to see it being restored to public land and wildlife habitat with great hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation opportunities.”
Mike Hayden served as governor of Kansas from 1987 to 1991.
Parsons Sun, August 11, 2010
Military base growth expectedly causes a proportionate growth in the surrounding communities as the influx of soldiers, families and civilian employees seek to minimize commuting and service operation distances.
Unfortunately, that community expansion can severely and negatively impact the very military operation that provides the opportunities.
A process to help address such conflicts resulted in the Great Plains Development Authority being recognized for its willingness to participate in the first-ever partnership with the U.S. Army in the Army Compatible Use Buffer Exchange (ACUB-X).
Dan Goddard, GPDA’s CEO, was recognized Monday at the Association of Defense Communities’ annual conference in San Francisco by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Joseph Calcara for the authority’s willingness to participate in the exchange. Calcara applauded the community’s cooperation in ensuring mission critical operations for the department elsewhere in the state.
The challenge at most growing military bases is that as the community builds closer to the fence line, the military is forced to withdraw further inside its boundaries to mitigate undesirable side effects of its operation, such as sound problems. Specifically at Fort Riley, a state of the art digital radar system could be limited by growth too close to the base.
With conservation easements purchased on nearby rural property, the Army can ensure that development will not occur within the easement area.
Calcara noted that the Kansas project provided for 1,000 acres of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant to be sold directly to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for $1 million. That amount, which was 75 percent federal grant money and 25 percent state user fees, became matching funds for a conservation easement grant of $1 million. The resulting $2 million, in turn, allowed the Army to secure 6,800 acres of buffer zone around Fort Riley.
A conservation easement is a legally enforceable land preservation agreement between a landowner and a government agency or a qualified land trust for the purposes of conservation. It restricts real estate development, commercial and industrial uses and certain other activities on a property to a mutually agreed upon level. The property remains the private property of the landowner.
At Fort Riley, the property placed in land trust is native tallgrass. At the KAAP, the property purchased is habitat that provides shelter for wildlife unique to Kansas and lies adjacent to 2,000 acres already being sold by the GPDA to KDWP. The ACUB-X program will allow for the preservation of nearly 8,000 acres in Kansas.
“The Parsons community, located in southeastern Kansas, was hit hard by the closure of the ammunition plant with BRAC 2005,” Calcara said. “However, they were the very first Army community to come forward and seek redevelopment opportunities rather than fight the decision to close the plant. This community went on to become the first BRAC 2005 community to receive approval of a below-fair-market-value conveyance.
“This agreement with the Parsons community provides a substantial financial and enduring operational benefit to the Army and Fort Riley, and I take great pleasure in recognizing the Great Plains Development Authority and Parsons, Kansas, here today as pioneers since they are the first community to partner with the Army, state and federal agencies in a very complex process to employ the ACUB program.”
Calcara added that the local cooperation with the Army accelerated the BRAC disposal at KSAAP and that the local support in building a pilot process for the Army provides for a project that can now be replicated at other locations.
“The results of Mr. Goddard’s actions at the KSAAP in Parsons will not only emanate throughout the state of Kansas, but in other states and throughout the U.S. Army to protect installations that provide the necessary capabilities for soldier readiness.”
Goddard responded, “The Great Plains Development Authority recognized that participating in the ACUB exchange program was the right thing to do. The authority members recognized the value of the ACUB program, and their willingness to work with the Army led directly to the preservation of nearly 8,000 acres of sensitive and unique habitat and helped Fort Riley prepare for its expanded mission.”
The ADC is a 1,200-member national organization designed to assist BRAC communities that are closing, growing or being realigned throughout the U.S. Association dues and travel expenses are funded by the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment.
At the conference, Goddard and GPDA deputy director Ann Charles also presented a program entitled “Detangling Infrastructure” to help other BRAC closure bases trying to meld military utilities into non-military operations.
Others attending the conference included board chairman Bob Wood, vice chairman Dan Peterson and Labette County Commissioner Brian Kinzie.
Charles was elected to the board of directors for the ADC while at the conference.
The ADC unites the diverse interests of communities, state governments, the private sector and the military on issues of base closure and realignment, community military partnerships, defense real estate, mission growth, mission sustainment, military privatization and base redevelopment.
The board has 13 members who serve three-year terms.
Goddard, previously served in the same capacity, having been elected prior to arriving in Parsons while employed as CEO of the redevelopment authority for the Grissom Air Force Base in Indiana.
Parsons Sun, August 5, 2010
Larry Hastings, property manager for Great Plains Development Authority, recently attended the Water and Wastewater Operators School at the University of Kansas, sponsored by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the University of Kansas. Federal and state laws require all water and wastewater facilities be under the direct supervision of a certified operator who has met certain educational requirements and passed a written exam administered by KDHE. To maintain certification Operators are required to obtain a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education during each two year renewal period for each certification held. Training includes updates on State and Federal regulations, safety, math, chemistry, biology, operations and maintenance, treatment and disinfection techniques and facility management.
Along with other duties Hastings will provide management oversight of the water and waste water operations at the Great Plains Industrial Park once that portion of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant transfers from the U.S. Army to the local community.
Parsons Sun, August 5, 2010
by Colleen Surridge
The Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks is one step closer to ownership of property that will serve as a 3,000-acre nature reserve.
KDWP representatives met with the Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA) board Tuesday morning to sign a real estate purchase agreement. The U.S. Army transferred 2,600 acres of the 13,727-acre Kansas Army Ammunition Plant property to the GPDA in February. It was the first completed property transaction from among the 150 U.S. military installation recommended for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Of the 2,600 acres transferred to the GPDA, about 2,015 of those acres were to be transferred to the KDWP in the future, GPDA executive director Dan Goddard said.
Securing the land, purchase option funding toward the property was given by the KDWP to the GPDA in advance of the actual transfer. The KDWP issued a check to Labette County for $750,000, which was in turn sent to the Kansas Department of Commerce to satisfy the terms for the grant for the Scott Road project, so no local tax dollars would used to enhance the road and entries to the property.
The sole purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to sign the purchase agreement, which once executed, “must be placed in the Kansas Registrars Office for 30 days prior to any sale taking place,” Goddard said. “The reason we are doing this now is to prepare for the actual transfer of the property in September.”
In addition to the 2,015 acres the GPDA is transferring, the Army is transferring 1,000 acres directly to the KDWP through the Army Compatibility Use Boundary (ACUB) program. Funds from that sale of property to the KDWP are to be used to reduce encroachment around Fort Riley.
Though located on the former KAAP, the land the KDWP is receiving is uncontaminated and will become a protected natural resource.
The 3,000 acres is considered by KDWP as some of the best wildlife habitat around.
Labette Creek, fed by several streams, winds through part of the area, and the acreage’s forest habitat consists of pristine woodlands.
In 2009, that area of land was considered to be the seventh best white tail deer hunting area in the U.S. by Outdoor Life magazine. There are also three archeological sites included in the 2,000 acres, which will be transferred to the KDWP.
“Our goal is to protect that habitat and allow the public to benefit from it,” KDWP wildlife manager Rob Riggin said.
Conservation being the primary goal of the KDWP, it plans to allow controlled public access for hunting, fishing, bird watching, berry picking and mushroom hunting. Limiting access
will help to prevent the depletion of resources or destruction of them from overuse and allow all those interested in enjoying the area to have access for their various outdoor interests.
Goddard said the decontamination efforts continue on a portion of the Phase II parcel of land, consisting of 6,116 acres on which the GPDA signed an agreement with the Army. Goddard said some assessments are still being completed in some areas. Day & Zimmermann, the contract operator of the plant, is in the process of decontaminating loose equipment and removing it, so Matrix can then decontaminate the buildings.
D&Z is still in the negotiations process with the Army in regard to the transfer of approximately 4,000 acres to the company, Goddard said.
Southeast Kansas legislators toured the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant (KSAAP), Parsons, Wednesday, and got an inside look at how the 2005 Congressional Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) is challenging the entire area. Sen. Bob Marshall (left), Ft. Scott, and Rep. Bill Otto, Leroy, are joined by the Great Plains Development Authority’s (GPDA) CEO Dan Goddard and past chairman James McCarty, while they get a briefing on the history of the plant. A tour of the 14,000-acre facility followed. With a salary base nearly double that of most Southeast Kansas counties’, the plant attracted employees from a 70 miles radius and its closure has created an economic impact throughout the SEK area. (printed in Parsons Sun, July 30, 2010)
Labette Health Board of Trustees President Vincent Schibi (left) on Thursday morning received the Kansas Business Appreciation Month Merit Award, issued by the Kansas Department of Commerce, from Ann Charles and Dan Goddard of Great Plains Development Authority. Two other Labette County businesses received the honor: Dayton Superior and KLKC Radio.
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Parsons Sun, May 8, 2010
By Colleen Surridge
Thanks to the foresight of local citizens to create the Local Redevelopment Planning Authority (LRPA) and the Great Plains Development Authority (GPDA), land occupied by the government to make munitions will soon serve a dual purpose for the benefit of local residents.
Acquisition of the Kansas State Army Ammunition Plant's (KSAAP)
13,727 acres by the GPDA will provide not only land for growth of the Great Plains Industrial Park, providing space for business and industry placement allowing for expanded economic development in Southeast Kansas, but a natural resource in the form of a 3,000-acre nature reserve under ownership of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP).
Wildlife manager Rob Riggin said he believes KDWP is closer to receive the 3,000 acres of property from the U.S. Army, which will then become a protected natural resource.
Within the area, Riggin said, "There is some of the best wildlife habitat around. Labette Creek runs through part of the area, and there are several streams that run into it. There is wooded forest habitat that consists of pristine woodlands. Our goal is to protect that habitat and allow the public to benefit from it."
Conservation of the wildlife, flora and fauna in the area will be the primary goal of the KDWP, while also allowing the public access for hunting, fishing, bird watching, berry picking and mushroom hunting as it does in other preserved nature areas.
"I just talked to the Audubon Society last night about it. They are excited to come on and take an inventory of the birds there," Riggin said.
Conservation of such assets means limiting access to prevent the depletion of resources or destruction of them from overuse and to allow all those interested in enjoying the area to have access for their various outdoor interests.
"My goal would be to have a portion of the area open to giving the public a place they can go in and out of, but the majority of the property would be limited access through permit only or special permission to help protect the resources for the future," Riggin said. "Limited access means only allowing a certain number of people in at certain times of the year."
Riggin said they can't very well allow people to be in the area mushroom hunting during deer hunting season because of the dangers it would pose, so they have to coordinate activities according to season.
"We do want to make it a place everyone can enjoy though," he said.
It is known by many that throughout the plant grounds are some of the biggest bucks in the state.
With such knowledge existing among hunters, Riggin said to simply open up the area to the public would draw a massive number of hunters, quickly depleting that resource.
For that reason, he said, the KDWP will limit access and also continue to maintain a draw hunting system for a while at least, and perhaps in perpetuity.
While there was some consideration in prior years of there being opportunity for the KDWP to build a lodge on the property, or the GPDA to build a lodge just outside the nature area on its property where visitors could stay, Riggins said there are no other plans to alter the land, such as adding nature paths.
"But that is just me talking. That is what I want to see for the area. A lodge could be something the KDWP considers in the future, but I would like to try to keep the area as natural as possible so we are not planning on putting in any paths. If folks want to see it they can go in on foot,"
Riggin said. "We don't want to go in there with anything disrupting the natural habitat."
Riggin said the KDWP will have a meeting at the site this month to allow area staff to tour the property.
"We think we are getting close to the acquisition of the property, so we would like to introduce our employees to it from the area, especially those who will be working directly with it," Riggin said.
There is also a legislative tour coming up soon, where area legislators will learn about the KDWP's plans for the property and learn about the natural assets it boasts.
In addition, Riggin said there is a group that will be coming from Lawrence to conduct a biological survey of the land. The Kansas Biological Survey is a non-regulatory agency of the state of Kansas, and a non-degree granting research and service unit of the University of Kansas, recognized nationally in several fields of environmental research. The KBS mission is to gather information on the kinds, distribution and abundance of plants and animals in Kansas and to compile, analyze, interpret and distribute this information.
The Army has granted permission for these special visits, but since the land has not yet been transferred to the KDWP, entry remains restricted by the Army.
Even once the transfer takes place, public access to the area could remain restricted for some time.
Riggin said access to the KDWP reserve area is through the land to be transferred to the GPDA later this year.
"The Army is soon going to be cleaning up sites, working on decontamination, so I'm not certain of access in the future, as to when and where it will be allowed, and how it will affect us and access to our area," Riggin said.
There is no contamination on the 3,000 acres that for decades served as buffer between the ammunition plant and surrounding residential and farm land to prevent people from moving too close to the hazardous area, but other contaminated and secured areas at the former plant could prevent public access for a while.
These are precautions the Army must take, so Riggin asks the public to respect the security measures.
The only areas that access will remain open during those times, is the privately leased land.
"We will continue to allow grazing and farming in our area, even once the property is transferred, and so will the GPDA," he said. "There are several hundred acres of grass that is being grazed or baled, and it will remain that way. Sometimes folks would get upset when they would hear the KDWP was acquiring some of the land, but we realize that farming is an asset to wildlife, too, and it has a lot of benefits to both sides to allow it to continue."
Although there may be delays for the public to be permitted into the area, Riggin said they are very much looking forward to the day the public can enjoy this natural asset to the area.
"It's a very beautiful place. ... Hats off to the Great Plains Development Authority, and before that the Local Redevelopment Planning Authority. These groups had the foresight to look at this project with the best interest of the community in mind, to set aside a piece of the property to protect it and save the woodland and forest for future generations, and to recognize the potential for economic development too. It's great that they saw the potential for both assets for the community."
Parsons Sun, May 1, 2010
By Jamie Willey
It’s been five years since the announcement that the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant would close, and a development authority will have to wait at least a few more months before it gains control of the land.
Dan Goddard, Great Plains Development Authority executive director, met with Parsons city commissioners Thursday for an update on development of the future Great Plains Industrial Park.
The U.S. Army has transferred 2,600 acres to the GPDA, but transfer of the vast majority of the land at the plant east of Parsons is being held up in a “contest” between the Army, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Environmental Protection Agency, Goddard said.
The land already transferred was handed over to the GPDA as clean property, but concerns remain over the cleanup involved for the rest of the land, which may have asbestos, lead-based paint and pesticide contamination. Goddard said when the GPDA makes progress on obtaining the land, something else sets it back. The latest projected date for transfer of the land is now August. The GPDA can begin explosive-decontamination of the property as soon as the issues between the Army, KDHE and EPA are settled.
The GPDA’s May 13 meeting will mark five years to the day that the announcement was made that the plant would close as a U.S. Department of Defense facility, Goddard said, but still the GPDA is progressing quickly. The small land transfer was the first of its kind in the round of Base Realignment and Closure Commission closings. No land on other facilities has been transferred.
While the delays are frustrating, Goddard said the GPDA wants to ensure it works closely with KDHE and the EPA for a long time and if required to do anything, the GPDA will see to it that it is done to protect itself.
Although land in the park can’t be zoned until GPDA owns it, the organization has created a proposed zoning overlay for the property. The zoning calls for lighter industry in the north and northeast parts of the park, with heavier industry to the south. There are three suggested levels of industrial zoning.
Part of the property would be zoned as an energy park, Goddard said, for use by wind energy or biofuels firms. One wind energy company has shown interest in locating at the plant and would like to install two or three test towers in the park. Although this area of Kansas isn’t as windy as the western part, the air density here may be high enough to make up for a lack of a lot of strong wind.
Day and Zimmermann Inc., the contract-operator of the plant, will get some of the land it now uses. The company hopes to get Department of Defense contracts to continue munitions manufacturing while eventually diversifying into other products, Goddard said. He said it’s a “pretty good bet” that the company will be able to continue operating at the park long-term.
The proposed zoning also includes a small residential area on the northwest edge of the plant.
The Labette County Commission will have to pass a resolution to create a five-member planning commission and a three-member appeals board. The planning commission will study the proposed zoning and give its recommendation to the county commissioners, who will approve a final zoning plan. The county also will have to hire or appoint a zoning administrator for the park.
Goddard said the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will get possession of its land in the park “fairly soon,” however he doesn’t know when the public will have access to that land.
“I couldn’t really tell you exactly when that’s going to occur,” Goddard said.
The Army’s administration building will be marketed nationwide and probably sold this summer or fall under sealed bid. Goddard said he anticipates whoever buys the building would put it to use for business, generate jobs and put the building on the county’s tax roll.
The park will retain the plant’s controlled access, and other gates may be added during the decontamination process to keep the public safe. The park also will have roving patrols, Goddard said. Eventually, though, the roads within the park will be turned over to the county, at which time they will become public access roads with no restrictions.