Groups seek air base land
By Rich Pietras, staff writer Calkins Media, Inc. Read The Full Article
16 applications were filed for free or reduced land at the closing Willow Grove Naval Air Station.
Among them were the Bucks County Airport Authority, which wants 681 of the available 892 acres, and Montgomery County, which requested up to 540 acres in a separate, but similar, application.
Both plans propose to keep the 8,000-foot runway – the largest in the region outside Philadelphia International Airport – open for a general use, private airfield and corporate center.
Neither plan suggested turning the airfield into a commercial or cargo airfield with scheduled flights.
But should either proposal be approved, it will leave only a couple of hundred acres left for the township and its reuse authority to develop into taxpaying properties.
The larger and much more comprehensive proposal for the runway came from the Bucks County Airport Authority.
Its plan for a “Pitkarin Aviation Center” would come in two phases, according to its submission.
The first would involve immediately making 536 acres in and around the runway ready for flights.
The rest of the plan showed the remaining acreage nearby being used for a corporate business complex.
The Montgomery County commissioners had already tipped their hat last week when they unanimously voted to apply to acquire the runway.
At that time, commissioners said that the county had no intention of operating or managing an airport, but supported the idea of a general aviation airfield that would foster regional and economic development.
On Tuesday, that plan became a bit clearer, suggesting a deed transfer to the county with arrangements with Horsham regarding ownership and leasing rights to be subject to future negotiations.
The county’s submission said it could work with the Montgomery County Transit Authority on a plan, revive the now-defunct Montgomery County Airport Authority or create a new authority, such as a “Montgomery County Development Authority to be created pursuant to the state’s economic eminent domain law.”
Reporters were allowed to briefly browse the 16 packets known as “notices of interests” and specifics of each plan were not totally available Tuesday.
Horsham Land Reuse Authority Executive Director Mike McGee and Deputy Director Tom Ames said they had yet to start reviewing the plans.
One of the first steps will be to determine which fall under federal guidelines for “public benefit conveyances,” which include uses like educational facilities, correctional facilities, homeless support, parks, health centers and airports.
The Hatboro-Horsham School District’s proposal for 60 acres was approved by the school board Monday night.
According to the district’s submission, the district wants 34 acres for educational facilities, 6 acres for administration and 20 acres for athletic fields.
Superintendent Curtis Griffin said the submission is part of feasibility study that partly recommended constructing a new Keith Valley Middle School. Griffin said any plans are “very far off in the future” and that the application at least provides the district a chance at acquiring property…… Read The Full Article Here http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/the_intelligencer_news/groups-seek-air-base-land/article_fc7c71c7-faa3-5e1c-9a32-f55c2489c5fe.html