Former Kelly AFB wins national EPA excellence award in site reuse

  • Published
  • By Aneta Veedmont
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Environmental Protection Agency has recognized former Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, as one of its 2022 National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Award winners. 

“We are tremendously honored to be nationally recognized and take great pride in moments like this,” said Brig. Gen. William H. Kale III, Air Force Civil Engineer Center commander. “This award recognizes tireless restoration efforts and effective partnership towards a common goal that not only protects our environment, but also provides the San Antonio region with continued economic development, growth and vitality.” 

AFCEC, a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, manages the disposition and environmental restoration of former installations closed during Base Realignment and Closure rounds from 1988 to 2005. The Kelly award is the fourth closed Air Force installation in five years the EPA has recognized for excellence in site reuse. Other awardees are former McClellan AFB, California; Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina; and Griffiss AFB, New York. 

The EPA said the award acknowledges “the hard work and tremendous cooperation” among the Department of the Air Force, the EPA and state regulatory agencies, and local redevelopment authority to accomplish the restoration and reuse of the former Air Force depot base while demonstrating its commitment to safeguarding human health and the environment. 

“We are grateful for the partnerships which helped our environmental experts lead diligent restoration and remediation efforts to ensure the cleanup protects human health and the environment and supports the redevelopment of the property,” said Jeffrey Domm, director of AFCEC's Installations Directorate.

Strong partnerships between the Air Force and the community, Domm said, brought the property back into productive reuse and allowed the former base to continue to be one of the largest employers in the area. 

“This collaborative multi-year effort delivered on both job retention and creation for the community,” Domm said. 

Since the 1995 BRAC vote to shutter Kelly AFB in 2001, the Air Force and the community have worked together toward environmental restoration and successful redevelopment. 

AFCEC led the environmental restoration and disposition process that has invested more than $329 million on clean-up operations that has transformed 660 previously contaminated sites into usable properties, according to Paul Carroll, BRAC environmental coordinator at AFCEC. 

“Through the environmental cleanup efforts, we helped accomplish the redevelopment vision that DAF sets out to achieve through the base closure/realignment process,” Carroll said. 

The Air Force has returned 1,887 acres of the property to the San Antonio community. The combined efforts transformed the former base into Port San Antonio, a business complex housing more than 80 organizations enabling over 15,000 jobs in aerospace, manufacturing and leading-edge technology industries. The port’s annual economic impact of $5.6 billion aids in further investments and regional development. 

“We have watched Kelly’s redevelopment flourish over the years, and Port San Antonio has greatly exceeded what anyone thought was possible in 1995,” Carroll said.

“As our activities are winding down, we continue our environmental responsibilities and commitment to protecting human health and the environment even after the property is transferred. Everything we do builds up to that goal.” 

For more information on Port San Antonio, visit the AFCEC web page here.