Principles outlined for base challenges

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Representatives from Clovis, Portales, Roosevelt County and Curry County converged under one roof Wednesday and emerged with a tentative plan for action, should Cannon Air Force Base require expansion or redevelopment.

The base-closing commission will send its revised list Sept. 8 to the president for approval, but whether or not Cannon escapes it, the Clovis-Portales area will be drastically affected, said Clovis Mayor David Lansford, one local leader who is bracing for seismic BRAC repercussions.

The four entities left Wednesday’s meeting with a set of five principles that they say will guide through such repercussions.

“The main thing I want the community to understand is the purpose of the meeting wasn’t single fold,” said Lansford, who drafted the five guiding principles, “it had a twofold purpose. We are looking at a high possibility that Cannon could expand and that there will be growth issues to deal with. We are also looking at the possibility of redevelopment (should Cannon close) and we need to be prepared.”

A chorus of officials said that the meeting established unity among the four entities, but was foremost an opportunity for learning.

“This was kind of an idea session,” Roosevelt County Administrator Charlene Hardin said. “We didn’t really decide on anything. Basically, it was just a learning experience.”

The guest speaker at Wednesday’s meeting was Eric Williams, the executive director of Reese Technology Center, an organization created to drum up business in Lubbock after Reese Air Force Base closed in a previous BRAC round.

“The initial reaction of Lubbock to the Reese closure was difficult — it was uncharted waters, a time of uncertainty when people didn’t know the road map to the future,” said Lansford, repeating insight he gained through Williams. “Because the DOD has learned from past situations, there is no need for us to make the same mistakes that have been made before.”

Lansford said that past BRAC experiences and a cooperative spirit are on the side of Clovis-Portales.

“What I’ve learned from listening to people who been through this process (redevelopment or expansion) is that the greatest hindrance is unresolved political opinions, not being able to collectively come together and have a single goal, a single mission, and a single process,” the mayor said.

The future of Cannon remains uncertain, but officials are in chorus: They will work together for the best interests of all.

“The meeting,” said Curry County Manager Dick Smith, “set a tone for (the four entities) working together in the future. The spirit of cooperation is one that will work forever for us in looking at how we build for the future.”