Syracuse city manager to present idea to protect Hill from BRAC closures

Aug 10 2011 - 12:22am

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Robert Rice
Robert Rice

SYRACUSE -- A Davis County city manager with a military background is dusting off a 30-year-old tool in hopes of throwing an additional force field around Hill Air Force Base and protecting it from any future rounds of BRAC closures.

Syracuse City Manager Robert Rice will present to the Davis Council of Governments tonight the idea of having different entities in the county join forces to become a member of the Association of Defense Communities.

The association was created in the early 1980s in response to military base realignments and closures.

Since 1988, the BRAC commission, through base realignment and closures, has closed 97 major U.S. military bases in an effort to save billions of tax dollars.

Rice is scheduled to make his presentation to Davis COG at 5 p.m. at Syracuse City Hall, 1979 W. 1900 South.

COG consists of the city mayors within the county and representatives from county government, Davis Chamber of Commerce, Davis School District and Hill Air Force Base.

Currently, Rice said, only two Utah groups are members of the ADC: the Utah Defense Alliance and Utah Industrial Depot.

The idea he will present to Davis COG is that the county, possibly in partnership with Weber County, become an ADC member, Rice said.

"There are cities, counties and towns that are members of ADC in other places," said Rice, who before coming to work for Syracuse in January became acquainted with ADC while serving as the commander of the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Kailua, Hawaii.

The concept behind the ADC is to enhance the relationship between the communities that surround military bases and the base itself by demonstrating how integrated the entities are, said Syracuse Mayor Jamie Nagle.

She said, based on Rice's background, Rice requested an audience with the mayors at the COG meeting to provide them with information they can take back to their respective councils.

The ADC provides two yearly conferences, Rice said, in which topic discussions include military privatization and base redevelopment, community military partnerships and the co-use of military and community services.

Two local examples of such partnerships include a 1987 agreement between Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District and Hill Air Force Base, in which the district provides the base with steam generated by its waste-incinerator plant to heat many of the bases' buildings, and the development of Falcon Hill, a community military partnership project under construction along the west side of the base property.

That project is expected to provide retail and office space for both the public and private sector.

"I don't know a lot about the (ADC) organization, but felt it was important to bring it before the group," said Davis County Commissioner John Petroff Jr.

The cost to Davis COG to be a member of the ADC would be about $500, Petroff said.

The only concern he has in being an ADC member, Petroff said, is that the organization advocates base closure community transformations.

"I don't even want to get that thought out there," he said.

Rice said the question he will pose to leaders is whether being a member of the ADC would be worthwhile to their communities. If that is the case, Rice said, he would be willing to serve as one of the county's representatives to the ADC.

The ADC, with 1,200 members, is the voice for communities and states with a significant military presence. The ADC unites the diverse interests of communities, state governments, the private sector and the military on issues including base closure and realignment and defense real estate, according to the ADC website.

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