Commissioners hear from base closure group

The Kitsap County commissioners received a report from the Base Realign-ment and Closure (BRAC) commission at their regular meeting on Monday.

“The report was a masterpiece,” said retired Capt. Will Lent, who supervised the BRAC effort, of the report submitted to the Department of the Navy in August.

The high quality of the report is intended to prompt the Defense Department to close a base in some other state or county,

“Once you get on one of these closure lists, it’s impossible to get off,” Lent said.

The report does not contain information about Kitsap’s military importance and “does not tell them what they already know,” Lent explained.

The purpose, he said, is to outline why the county is a perfect host for these activities.

Consequently, the report itself can be “recycled.”

North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen called it “a great economic tool for anyone who wants to come to the area.”

Lent’s described it as “a catalogue of all the great things the county does.”

The Navy is scheduled to submit a list of closure possibilities May 15, with a final decision expected by the end of the 2005.

Lent said the most vulnerable base is Keyport, but a plan to turn that facility into an information center for the Department of Homeland Security is a good backup.

This would be one of several such centers around the country, but the only one in the northwest.

An advocacy presentation states “test and evaluation can only be developed through experience using specialized equipment and facilities.

The people and equipment are already at Keyport.”

Realignment, Lent said, can be a two-edged sword. “You can lose your own bases through realignment, or you can get the business from another location that has been closed.”

Endresen requested that Lent supply a copy of the report so the county can put it on line.

After all this effort, Lent and his BRAC cohorts can only cool their heels for the next seven months.

“We’ve shot our wad,” he said. “There is nothing more that we can do.”

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