Initial construction at Griffiss AFB began just before the United States' entry into World War II, when the current site was chosen as the home for the Rome Army Air Depot. News stories and local historical documents recount that the Rome site was chosen over several other possible sites in the northeast, due in part to the donation of 1,800 acres of land by the Oneida County Board of Supervisors, and the offer of up to one million gallons of water per day - without charge - from the City of Rome, as well as availability of sewage treatment facilities. Still recovering from the Depression of the 1930s, and troubled by stagnation in its mainstay industry, the production of copper and brass, Rome and Oneida County enthusiastically welcomed the presence of the military installation as a source of employment.
During World War II, Rome Air Depot was an extremely active installation; its mission was the repair, modification and maintenance of aircraft, and the storage and shipment of supplies. After creation of the Air Force in 1947, the depot was renamed Griffiss Air Force Base in January 1948 after Lt. Colonel Townsend E. Griffiss, the first American aviator (and a New York State resident) to be killed in action in the European Theater of Operations during World War II.
In 1993, Griffiss AFB was on the list of bases slated for realignment and/or closure under BRAC.
As a result of the various national defense missions carried out at the former Griffiss AFB since 1942, hazardous and toxic substances were used and hazardous wastes were generated, stored, or disposed of at various sites on the installation. The defense missions involved the procurement, storage, maintenance and shipping of war material; research and development; and aircraft operations and maintenance. The U.S. Department of Defense Installation Restoration Program has conducted numerous studies and investigations to locate, assess and quantify the past toxic and hazardous waste storage, disposal and spill sites.
The base is bordered on the west and northwest by commercial and residential areas, on the north and east by land traditionally classified as agricultural woodland, which has become, within the last 20 years, more suburban in nature due in large part to a demand for housing by military retirees and civilian employees of the base. The local redevelopment authority, the Griffiss Local Development Corporation, is the single entity responsible for base reuse planning activities at Griffiss, serving as the community's point of contact for all matters relating to redevelopment.
Local Redevelopment Authority
Griffiss Local Redevelopment Corporation
584 Phoenix Drive,
Rome NY 13441-4105
Phone: (800) 765-4990