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.