Pentagon base closing provides opportunities

Opinion

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It seems the Naval Reserve Base in Forest Park has been listed by the Pentagon for closing.

The base, located at 7410 W. Roosevelt Road, is one of 775 facilities on the list and, as Village Administrator Michael Sturino correctly pointed out to the REVIEW, it is located in the heart of one of our commercial areas.

Some think the base closing is a mistake but others, ourselves included, see it is a great  opportunity for new development.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his buddies at the Pentagon are trimming the fat in the military and reallocating necessary dollars to support our active troops in combat and we applaud them for this.

While some base closings would represent a monumental death blow to communities across the U.S., Forest Park won't be affected much by this particular closing.

In fact, we believe the closing would benefit the community, providing opportunities for redevelopment and adding another good piece of property to the tax rolls.

Name the developmentâ€"retail, residential or commercial. Or a combination of those. Each alternative will provide more jobs, more property tax, more sales tax than any economic benefit the base currently generates.

While it is true that up to 600 people rotate in and out of the base on a monthly basis, the bottom line is that the base only has 15 military-related jobs and no real civilian jobs.

It is also true that we get minimal fringe benefits from the reservists who stay in the area for training and eat at our restaurants and drink at our bars.

However, the economy here is vibrant and what we really need is more redevelopment, which the center could help out withâ€"by closing.

Also, some of the officers in charge at the center don't even live in the area, as assignments are rotated for the Navy from across the Midwest.

We recently ran a story on a captain assigned to the center who got his commission while living in the Quad Cities area and who now lives in D.C.

Thus, the potential benefits for supporting this particular base closing far outweigh the benefits of keeping it open.

We thank our senators and representatives for their willingness to fight this battle, but the writing has been on the wall for this particular base for a while now, and time and energy should be spent solving other problems for our state and for our area.

Let's tackle ISAT scores, the No Child Left Behind Act or amendments to the municipal code in Illinois instead. Or how about the war in Iraq and not doing away with the state-based gun database or amending the way we report sexual predators in the state?

So, kudos to Sturino for his foresight and to Calderone for keeping an open mind on the prospect.

We are sad to potentially see the storied base go, but in reality it just hasn't been the same since the torpedo factory closed decades back. The town has moved on and so should we.

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