What would happen if MCLB closes? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

What would happen if MCLB closes?

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Dougherty County-- The county government takes its first step towards planning for the worst case scenario-- the closure of the Marine Corps Logistics Base.

In just over a month, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will recommend which military bases should be shutdown or realigned. Dougherty County and many surrounding counties have spent hundreds of thousands of dollar trying to save the Base. But, leaders must also come up with a Plan "B".

What will happen to the base and its employees if MCLB is on the cut list? The first step in planning for the redevelopment of the base is deciding who will mastermind the re-use plan. Today, Economic Development Commission President Tim Martin asked Dougherty County commissioners to allow the EDC to be start be those masterminds.

If the government shuts down the Albany Marine Base, the effects will be felt by more than the 2,800 civilians who work there. "You can hardly get in here in the afternoon," said Inland Store Manager Russell Barstad. "We're covered up around five o'clock."

Base employees frequent the Inland Convenience Store at the corner of Moultrie Road every morning, so the store is crossing its fingers that the base isn't closed.

Take away the military, and what does MCLB have to offer? "You could have an industrial park or office park." Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard says we must consider other ways to use the base. "We have some of the largest warehouse in the world out there. We have some incredible infrastructure out there, we've got 1,000 to 1,500 acres of pristine land that has nothing on it."

Because of its space, infrastructure and warehouses, the base would most likely become an industrial park. The county has already set aside $3 million in tax money to develop an industrial park. "We just want to be double cautious and double careful, and have these things in place just in case these plans are needed."

Economic Develop Director Tim Martin is asking the city and county to allow the EDC come up with a re-use plan. "There's tremendous opportunity for some incredible development should the base be available for our use. You have to think of a variety or scenarios and outcomes and try to plan for each one of them.

And the base doesn't have to fall back into the hands of the county if it's closed. The government could decided to sell the land to a private developer. And that could be a double whammy for the community and its businesses.

A week from today, leaders from all 13 Georgia counties where bases are located will meet with the Governor and the Military Affairs Coordinating Committee to give updates on plans for keeping the bases off the cut list and plans for the re-development of the closed bases.

The BRAC commission will hand its cut list over to the President on September 8th. President Bush will then make the final decision on which base will be shut down.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com