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Washington's Four Lakes redevelopment a success

  • Published
  • By Rachel Zaney
  • AFCEC Public Affairs

When Four Lakes Communication Station was selected for closure in 2005, no one was sure of the redevelopment potential of the 63-acre property in eastern Washington. Aside from being a beautiful piece of land, Four Lakes consisted of two parcels geographically separated by a private farm, which made the boundaries a bit unusual relative to other bases affected by the Base Realignment and Closure program.

Around the same time, the Cheney Public School District was looking for land to serve in a variety of educational and administrative support functions. They had outgrown their 83-year-old administrative building, and the cost to bring it up to standard was more than local taxpayers could afford given its age and condition.

When the school district learned about the property at Four Lakes, it appeared to meet their needs. The warehouse was perfect for dry foods and cold storage allowing the district to save valuable taxpayer dollars by purchasing in bulk, and many of the other buildings could support office and conference room space.

The Air Force Real Property Agency, now a part of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, transferred the property via public benefit conveyance to the Department of Education at a discounted rate. PBCs indicate the land will be used for some kind of benefit to the community, such as an airport or school. These types of transfers are typically conducted through a local redevelopment authority, but since Four Lakes didn't have one, the Air Force worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the General Services Agency to complete the processes normally conducted by an LRA.

"This was a great opportunity for the Air Force to collaborate with other agencies to help fit a unique need for the Cheney community," said Cyndy Hanson Knake, base transition coordinator for AFCEC's BRAC program management office. "The Department of Education and the Cheney School District were both a pleasure to work with."

Three years after whole base transfer, the Cheney Public School District is flourishing thanks to the resources gained from the Air Force. On Aug. 20, the district held an open house and building dedication to showcase their property in time for the new school year.

"The property is central to schools across the entire district, and we are thankful we had the opportunity to purchase this property at a 'surplus' price," said Debra Clemens, superintendent of the Cheney Public School District. "What a win for our district and its taxpayers!"

The former Air Force property is also home to the district's operations office, a homeschooling program for parents, and an alternative high school.