McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

July 10, 2014

City council looks at purchasing land near McAAP

McALESTER — The city of McAlester is looking to buy some land — preferably near the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.

City councilors took action during their regular Tuesday night meeting at City Hall to formally accept a $216,000  Incentive Fund Award from the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission.

They also authorized an invoice to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to draw the $216,000. The OSMPC is a state commission created to help facilitate support and action to benefit the five military bases in Oklahoma —including the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.

A provision in the grant requires a 10 percent match from McAlester. That would work out to $21,600, bringing the total amount to $237,600. McAlester Community and Economic Development Director Leroy Alsup said the city plans to utilize staff man-hours and in-kind services as much as possible.

One of the plans for the money is to explore the option of developing a defense industrial park that could also serve as Homeland Defense sector industrial park adjacent to McAAP.

Mark Jordan is a member of the OSMPC and is also chairman of the McAlester Defense Support Association, a group put together to support the defense industry in the McAlester area, including McAAP and Choctaw Defense.

Jordan said a defense  industrial park close to McAAP would prove  advantageous in persuading private defense contractors to move to the McAlester area.

Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith noted there are already thousands of acres inside the McAAP boundaries.

“They have a lot of land on the base,” Smith noted.

“The base is very reluctant to get rid of that land,” Jordan said, adding that it would be better to have any outside contractors on land outside —but near —McAAP.

Smith asked how much land would be needed for the anticipated defense industrial park.

“We’re not talking about thousands of acres; we’re talking about hundreds of acres,” Jordan said. He said no specific site had been finalized at this point.

Another plan for those supporting the defense industry in McAlester and Oklahoma is to prepare for another round of Base Closure and Realignment Commission actions expected in 2017.

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is positioned to become the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee if the Senate majority changes following the November elections, Jordan noted.

In addition to the current OSMPC grant, the city expects to receive a 2015 OSMPC Incentive Fund Award of $204,750, with a $20,475 local match, bringing that total to $225,225.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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