Background on Installation
Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005 closed Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NASJRB) Willow Grove. The off-site housing located in Warminster Township and Ivyland Borough (Bucks County), consisting of 53.5 acres, was declared surplus by the Navy in January 2009. However, the main base located in Horsham Township in Montgomery County, and consisting of 892 acres, was not declared surplus until Sept 2010 due to the State of Pennsylvania’s interest in the property. To prepare for this closure, the Horsham Authority for Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NASJRB) Willow Grove (HLRA) created the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) consisting of a nine-member Executive Board.
Property Reuse - Disposal
Due to the 21 month lapse in time between the two surplus determinations, the HLRA conducted outreach and redevelopment planning for the two housing sites in Warminster Township and Ivyland Borough separately from the main base.
Navy housing sites at Shenandoah Woods and Jacksonville Road: Outreach resulted in four Notices of Interest (NOIs)—two for homeless services, one for education, and one for open space/recreational use. One of the proposals for converting the sites for homeless services encompassed the entire Shenandoah Woods 51 acre, 199 townhouse site for redevelopment and sale to recapitalize a Homeless Trust Fund (HTF ). The proposed redevelopment plan was approved by the HLRA in July 2010 and submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Navy in September 2010. HUD responded with a preliminary adverse determination directing the HLRA to address balance deficiencies due to the request for 100 percent use of the Shenandoah Woods site for homeless housing. The HLRA submitted a revised redevelopment plan and homeless submission in May 2011 that satisfied HUD’s requirements. The Preferred Redevelopment Plan for the Shenandoah Woods Housing Area is residential in nature with open space and continued rural moderate (R2) zoning, which allows for moderate residential density buildings. The plan supports a homeless service provider’s request for 20 dwelling units. The plan also proposes use of a negotiated sale as the preferred method for disposing the remainder of the property. The Preferred Redevelopment Plan for the Jacksonville Road Housing Area is office use, which will accommodate a request for office space by the homeless service provider.
NASJRB Willow Grove (Main Base): Seventeen NOIs were submitted in March 2011 after HLRA conducted public outreach requesting input on the use of the land. Two of the 17 NOIs proposed reusing the existing airfield. The HLRA has held several public workshops and a design charrette (collaborative discussions with experts and interested members of the public) attracting the participation of hundreds of local residents. Considerable debate over reuse of the airfield delayed guidance to the planning consulting team , but they plan to present preferred reuse alternatives to the HLRA in October 2011. The redevelopment plan is due on March 31, 2012, and the HLRA continues to seek public input and hold debate regarding reuse alternatives.
The main base was placed on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in 1995 as a result of contamination in landfills, underground storage tanks, fuel farms, and a fire training area that possesses various levels of heavy metals, petroleum, oil and lubricants (POLs) and other solvents. Additionally, 52 buildings on NASJRB Willow Grove and the housing sites contain asbestos material. The main base has four active Installation Restoration (IR) program sites undergoing cleanup. There are no historic buildings on the National Register, but there are 15 identified locations of potential historic sites, plus there are four locations identified to have the potential for prehistoric archaeological resources.
For more information on the challenges these communities faced, click here.