Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lessons From The Valley

Castle Air Force Base

Sorry for the late afternoon post, I am traveling for work the next few days but thanks to the Internet I saw the City Council approved the demolition of 2413 Buena Vista and the renovation project on Bay Street.

I am currently in California’s Central Valley and yesterday I drove by the former Castle Air Force base in Meced/Atwater. This is a relatively small base compared to many I have seen but like NAS Alameda to it was subject to base closure in 1995.

The 45 minutes I spent driving around the renamed Castle Airport Aviation and Development Center, showed that it had about the same activity as Alameda Point. The only major difference I could find was the former military housing was sitting in disrepair and not being used. But the commercial activity was very active.

I also saw that they had a very active general aviation business. There were hundreds of small planes. I forget why Alameda did not pursue this activity for Alameda Point, maybe someone can update it in the comments.

A little history on Castle Air Force Base (1941-1995) this former United States Air Force Strategic Air Command base located northeast of Atwater, northwest of Merced and about 123 Miles east southeast of San Francisco, California.

The end of the Cold War brought many changes to the Air Force, and Castle AFB was selected for closure under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 during Round II Base Closure Commission deliberations (BRAC 91). The 328d Bomb Squadron was inactivated 3 May 1994, and the wing was placed on non-operational status. However, the 93d continued to supervise the closure of Castle AFB. The 93d Bomb Wing was inactivated on 30 September 1995 with the closure of Castle AFB.

As of 2008, local government plans to convert the dormant facility to civilian commercial use has become an active political issue, sound familiar. The property also houses the United States Penitentiary, Atwater on a portion of the grounds. The also have an air museum, met a nice man named Phil who was stationed at the base when it was active. UC Merced also has some offices on the property.

The little lessons I learned is base conversion is slow in almost every community. If you are willing to us the land for government uses, like a prison, then adaptive use can be quicker and finally Alameda looks to have the same level of activity then as its Central Valley sister.

Have a great day 

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