San Antonio, TX --
The Air Force joined with Milwaukee Government and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials today to formally transfer 102 acres of land and over 90 facilities at the former General Mitchell Air Reserve Station (GMARS), to Milwaukee County's General Mitchell International Airport. This property will provide additional economic growth opportunities for the airport and the Milwaukee area.
The successful transfer of the former GMARS property for commercial airport use marks the Air Force's first whole base transfer from its 2005 BRAC closure portfolio. "We are excited to complete our first BRAC 2005 transfer in record time," said Mr. Robert Moore, Air Force Real Property Agency Director. "Only two short years since the Air Reserve Station closed it is ready for transfer and transition from military to commercial development. Today's ceremony celebrates both the history of the General Mitchell Air Reserve Station and the airport's future growth. I have seen first-hand how collaboration and partnership between communities and the Air Force can create success stories. The transfer of General Mitchell Air Reserve Station is one of those success stories."
The Federal Aviation Administration supported a Public Benefit Conveyance to transfer the property. General Mitchell International Airport has shown steady growth, accommodating nearly 8 million passengers in 2009. "The land transfer will benefit the safety and efficiencies of the airport, thus creating greater economic benefits to the community. Airports bring jobs, and we are pleased to see this potential for growth in Milwaukee," said Mr. Barry Cooper, Great Lakes Regional Administrator of the FAA.
"We have experienced phenomenal growth at Mitchell International Airport over the past several years," said Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker. "The turnover of the former 440th Air Reserve Base to Milwaukee County will give us a prime economic development opportunity. The timing is perfect for the airport's expansion needs."
"As owner and operator of General Mitchell International Airport, it makes sense for the federal government to turn this property over to Milwaukee County taxpayers," County Board Chairman Lee Holloway said. "The airport is already one of the biggest economic development drivers in this region, and I look forward to developing some creative uses for this property to further build on that track record."
Public input on the land use centered on using existing base facilities for job growth and airport expansion to support the local and regional economy. City Officials agree that the unified effort of the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) resulted in a successful reuse plan and property transfer.
"This marks the culmination of a cooperative effort among several different levels of government," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "We have worked together toward common goals. Most importantly, we are making a valuable piece of real estate accessible to job-creating businesses. This base had a long history of proud service to our nation's defense. It now returns to a different kind of service--service to our region's economy. Already, private sector jobs are being created here, and I am very optimistic that more new jobs are on the way," Barrett added.
Established in 1952, General Mitchell ARS supported the 440th Air Force Reserve units that flew from the Air Station since 1957. A framed photo of the former base was presented to the Mitchell Gallery of Flight, located inside the General Mitchell Airport, to commemorate the land transfer and the 440th's flight history.
The Air Force Real Property Agency (AFRPA) is responsible for remediation and property transfer at 40 former Air Force installations throughout the United States under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program. At the height of the BRAC process, AFRPA managed 87,000 acres, or about 137 square miles of property. In the two decades since the first BRAC in 1988, the agency has transferred 88 percent, or more than 116 square miles of land - twice the area of Washington, D.C. - to local communities for public use. Throughout the transfer process, the Air Force remains committed to protecting human health and the environment.