Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study: Base Closings Not Catastrophic

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study: Base Closings Not Catastrophic

Article excerpt

When a military base is marked for closure, doom and gloom

prognosticators invariably spit out visions of ensuing economic

chaos when the gates clang shut.

Now, a new study suggests they may be all wet.

While expectations often "verge on the apocalyptic," the study

released yesterday found the impact of base closures is not

catastrophic nor nearly as severe as forecast.

That might sound like welcome news for cities such as

Jacksonville, already in hand-wringing mode over what the future

will hold after the Navy abandons Cecil Field in 1998.

But some people who follow base closure issues warn against

extrapolating too much from the study, which focused exclusively

on three bases in California.

"A study of three cities in California doesn't make me feel a

whole lot better about Cecil Field closing here in Jacksonville,

Fla.," said T.R. Hainline, who served on the local base defense

committee during the 1993 and 1995 base closure rounds.

"I believed in 1993, and still believe, it will have pretty

severe localized impact unless there is a fairly immediate

replacement industry or group of industries as a result of the

redevelopment effort," he said.

When the Navy jet base on the Westside shuts down, it will take

with it 5,900 jobs, leaving a hole projected at $525 million in

the economy.

The study by RAND, a California think-tank, looked at Fort Ord,

George Air Force Base and Castle Air Force Base. All three were

entirely or largely closed by the end of 1994.

In the communities surrounding George and Castle, measures such

as population, retail sales and unemployment either improved or

worsened only slightly after the bases closed, the study found.

"The worst of the three was Fort Ord. There is some evidence of

some decline in some of the measures we looked at, but

relatively modest and nothing like what was predicted," said

Susan Hosek of RAND. …

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