Terrible Decision !!! LRA Committee...

Terrible Decision !!! LRA Committee rejects proposed training site...

Posted in the Savanna Forum

Matt Lawson

San Antonio, TX

#1 Sep 15, 2006

SAVANNA - A committee of the Jo-Carroll Depot Local Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors recently rejected a proposal to grant a lease-purchase agreement to Depot Training Center, a plan to utilize a portion of the former Savanna Army Depot to establish a “homeland-security style” training facility, said Dave Ylinen, executive director of the LRA.

“They elected to not continue on with the initiative,” Ylinen said of the LRA Board's Economic Development Committee, which voted against the proposal at a meeting last week. The LRA was created several years ago to redevelop a portion of the former army depot.

The Depot Training Center proposal will still go to the full LRA board for a final vote during a scheduled meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, officials say. However, because the board's economic development committee voted against the proposal, the initiative will likely be denied by the full board, officials say.

Training center officials sought to purchase the firing range, a single building (249), and Parcel 2, a plot of empty land on the army depot property - all to be used for multiple training exercises and education. The center would have utilized the property to host a variety of law enforcement, security, and military-style training courses for private corporations, governmental departments, and public service agencies, as well as qualified private citizens, school groups and civic organizations.

Project supporters claimed the facility would have had a positive impact on the small businesses in the Savanna area. The groups and students who would have come to the training center would have also utilized restaurants, hotels, and other establishments in the Savanna area, meaning more revenue for the area's tourism industry, supporters said.

Mike Grace, vice president of Depot Training Center, expressed regret at the committee's decision to vote against the proposal. Assuming the LRA board votes against the proposal Wednesday, officials with the Depot Training Center plan to pursue establishing the facility at a different location, Grace said.

“Obviously, it's something we're sorry to hear,” Grace said.“We thought it could be a great asset to the community.”

In July, LRA officials announced they were considering granting a lease-purchase agreement to Depot Training Center, but that officials were still completing back-ground investigations on the principals involved in the project. It's not clear if the results of the background investigations played into the LRA committee's decision to not pursue the project.

“It just didn't look like it was going to work,” said Don Craw-ford, chairman of the economic development committee, of the training center proposal.

According to Grace, he was told by LRA officials that the proposal was denied because the committee believed the training center wouldn't “mesh well” with the other businesses planned for the depot site. John Rapp, Jr., chairman of the LRA board, confirmed compatibility concerns were behind the committee's decision.

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