Gov. Rendell Reassures Local Officials on Plans for Joint Interagency Installation

WILL OW GROVE , Pa., June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today further clarified his administration's vision for the future Willow Grove /Horsham Joint Interagency Installation during a meeting among local, state and military officials.

"There are no missions more important than the national defense, homeland security and emergency preparedness missions assigned to this base," Rendell said. "I am committed to making this base a model homeland security and emergency preparedness hub, which will protect and defend our state, our nation and the region.

"I am also committed to addressing community concerns as this project moves forward," Rendell noted."

Our goal is to find the right mix of tenants to make the Joint Interagency Installation a reality. We intend to secure partnerships with government and non-government associated users and through those partnerships serve and protect the Commonwealth and the nation. These partnerships will also allow us to answer many of the concerns raised regarding the future of Willow Grove . For example, appropriate associated users will generate revenue for continuing operation of the installation in the form of lease payments while also providing money for the Horsham-Hatboro Area School District in the form of taxes. Any combination of tenants will work with the Commonwealth and local officials to appropriately address all legitimate concerns.

The Governor also announced his support for federal and state legislation to limit the use of the airfield at the joint interagency installation and to clarify the status of the installation.

"We don't want the airfield at Willow Grove to be used for commercial passenger or cargo operations, and I support legislation introduced by State Representative Rick Taylor and State Senator Stewart Greenleaf that will write into state law the limitations on the use of the airfield that I previously announced," Governor Rendell said. "I commend Congresswoman Alyson Schwartz and Congressman Patrick Murphy for introducing an amendment to pending Department of Defense legislation to address the same topic.

"I expect there will be fewer flight operations into and out of Willow Grove's airfield in the future than when the Navy and Air Force flying operations were in full swing," Governor Rendell said.

The meeting, in Philadelphia , included representatives from Horsham Township , the Hatboro-Horsham School District, Montgomery County , the Navy, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Department of Community and Economic Development

"When the Department of Defense announced its plans to close Willow Grove in May 2005 , we stood together and worked together to save the base," Rendell said. "We went to court to save the 111th Fighter Wing from deactivation, and we won. We're still fighting the save the flying mission for this unit, but, no matter what, there will be a substantial Pennsylvania Air National Guard presence at Willow Grove into the future."

The Governor emphasized that the Joint Interagency Installation will be a partnership involving federal, state and local governments and called on officials to work together to plan for and implement a smooth transition for the installation.

"Our plan for the installation will protect the Hatboro-Horsham School District from the significant loss of impact aid that closure of Willow Grove would mean," Governor Rendell said. "The Joint Interagency Installation concept, coupled with potential tax revenues from associated users, is the best prospect for keeping these funds flowing to the local school district."

The Governor called the interagency installation "a win-win situation" for the local community and the commonwealth.

"We may not have wholehearted agreement on everything that we propose for this base, but we will do our very best to accomplish the vital missions of the base and address local concerns," he said.


Chuck Ardo


SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor