Additional base closings announced last week by the U.S. government’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission leave the plan for the Forest Park Reserve Center the same as it has been since May when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced changes that will affect 837 bases nationwide.
Unless further revisions are made, the center’s Army units will remain in place, while its substantially larger Navy division will close. The 50-year-old center, located at 7410 W. Roosevelt Road, will lose about 75 percent of its full-time personnel, or about 20 employees, as well as the nearly 500 reservists who are stationed there throughout each year.
Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone said the current plans are not final. The commission is scheduled to give its recommendations to President Bush in September, and Congress will vote on the issue in November.
“In our inquiries to find federal legislators, they were unable to get any information, which led me to believe this is just a very early proposal that may or may not affect Forest Park.”
Commander Barbara Franklin agreed, saying that “nothing is official until the final list is released by the president .”
EMC James Cowart said that the Reserve Center has not begun to prepare for possible changes. “For now, it’s business as usual,” he said.
Calderone said he intends to wait until the government has released its final plans before considering the village’s next step.
“If the federal government saw fit to pull both centers out, the Village of Forest Park wants to be aware of that so we could have that on our radar screen for development purposes, but until we get to that point in time, it would be premature to think about developing.”
Forest Park Village Administrator Michael Sturino said the village had expressed interest to federal legislatures in having a seat at the table for development talks if the commission decides to close the center entirely, calling the prospect an “interesting development opportunity.”
In the meantime, he said, “the matter is out of our hands.”
Illinois military centers that will be affected by last week’s announcements include the Rock Island Arsenal, which stands to lose 1,417 jobs but gain 154 uniformed military positions, the Scott Air Force Base, which will lose 252 military positions but gain 131 new ones as well as 832 non-military jobs, and the Great Lakes Naval Station, which will lose 1,989 military jobs and 23 civilian positions, according to a July 20 article in the Chicago Tribune.