Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Burns Flat Facility to Undergo Face Lift

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Burns Flat Facility to Undergo Face Lift

Article excerpt

Although it's a few years off, the former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base at Burns Flat is undergoing a complete face lift -- or more accurately, perhaps, a face destruction.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will remove eight Wold War II- era hangars at the facility in preparation for space companies moving there, said Oklahoma's U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.

"This is something that's badly needed, but the Corps has resisted doing it," Inhofe said. "We structured it so that there wouldn't be a precedent set that would later cause problems."

It's expected that removing the buildings and eliminating the environmental hazards, especially asbestos, will cost about $2.5 million, said Bob Triplett, chairman of the Oklahoma Space Industries Development Authority.

"This is really a big deal," Triplett said during a telephone interview from his Tulsa office Wednesday. "They are going to take all eight buildings all the way down to the concrete.

"This will make it easier for a company to move here. No company wants to take over a site that has asbestos."

Wednesday's announcement was important because "the Corps has said `no' to everyone about doing this for years," Triplett said. "It wasn't until Sen. Inhofe stepped in that the Corps agreed to do the work."

At least three companies are interested in moving to Burns Flat and the abandoned Air Force property, Triplett said.

Authority members are working on memoranda of understanding with Space Adventures, a space tourism firm, and Pioneer Rocketplane, a company developing a single-stage space vehicle.

"We are wordsmithing the memoranda now, tweaking them here and there so they will be acceptable to everyone concerned," Triplett said. "These are not binding legal documents, but they outline everything that all involved expect from the deal.

"Our target date for having the memoranda signed is the September meeting. …

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