Pennsylvania's politicians have been attempting to convince national leaders that closing our local military bases is a poor idea, and not just for our own economic reasons. Apparently their efforts are paying off, as reflected in a flurry of articles today:
- The Inquirer reports that a Pentagon official said that their understanding of the Willow Grove base was incomplete, and additional information would color their decision about whether to close it.
Principi, whose commission is reviewing the Pentagon's nationwide base-closing recommendations and will make recommendations to President Bush, also indicated that the Pentagon information on Willow Grove didn't fully emphasize its "jointness" - the fact that it has units from each branch of the military. Willow Grove is one of only three such military bases nationwide, Principi said, adding that one of the goals of the military base reorganization effort is to expand the number of bases housing multiple branches.PA's governor and two senators were on hand to argue the case, and will appear in DC tomorrow to continue the fight.
"If you're trying to achieve jointness," he said, "what value does it make to close a Willow Grove?"
- The Daily News covers the same drama, adding some more details.
Historically, only 15 percent of such bases have remained open after review by the independent Base Closure and Realignment Commission, which makes final recommendations to the president.
. . .
All major bases, he said, including any base that faces the loss of 300 civilian jobs or 400 jobs total, will also be visited by one of the nine members on the commission.
- A second Daily News article examines the effects of base closings on other communities and predicts we could weather the blow. Many locales have redeveloped their bases into industrial parks and other facilities that end up providing more local jobs than before.
"In the short term, it is never a great thing to lose jobs and an economic engine," said Tim Ford, the executive director of NAID, an Association of Defense Communities. "But what communities have been able to show is that in the long term it's not so bad." Guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
What's important, Ford said, is that communities start planning for new economic development even at the same time that political leaders are fighting the closure, as is happening now with Willow Grove.