September 26, 2013

Editorial: Impressive accomplishments


---- — Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp. has all but wrapped up its impressive work, as it promised it would, and continues to strive to go out of business.

We’ll remind readers again of the monumental debt this region owes to this very professional and successful operation.

For those who weren’t here or don’t remember, PARC was created in 1995 when the federally appointed Base Realignment and Closure Commission two years earlier had decided that Plattsburgh Air Force Base was to be shuttered, despite solid endorsements to the contrary from military brass.

The region was shocked over what was clearly an unfair and unwise decision spurred by politics and not military readiness.

But that shock quickly gave way to a united drive to prepare for life after the Air Force. Originally created as the Plattsburgh Intermunicipal Development Council, PARC hired specialists in the sale of property to inventory, assess, renovate and sell the 5,000 acres of land, buildings and other property abandoned by the Air Force. It was a daunting assignment.

But as PARC Chairman Gilbert Duken — a well-known and trusted retired educator in the city — reported at the organization’s annual meeting this week, only a handful of parcels remain. The staff, once numbering in the scores, is down to five. Its last CEO, Bruce Steadman, was at the meeting as the nominal head of the final push for PARC’s retirement.

According to PARC’s website, what was once a bustling Air Force base is now a bustling collection of companies involved in aerospace and rail transportation, composites, market research, manufacturing, warehousing, high-tech engineering, pharmaceuticals, health care “and varied other fields (that have) discovered the meaning behind our motto, ‘the PARC advantage.’”

Once all the property has been transferred, the website continues, more than $100 million will have been placed on the tax rolls of Clinton County and the city and town of Plattsburgh, along with the Plattsburgh and Peru school districts.

As of 2008, fewer than 20 parcels remained to be sold, of the 195 PARC was given responsibility for in 1995. Last year, no parcels were sold, but, Duken assured the meeting attendees, solid prospects are lined up.

What an enormous undertaking this was in 1995. Hopeful expectations were that the transfer from military to civilian prosperity would take 25 to 40 years. After 18 years, the job is all but complete.

PARC’s performance was truly the envy of all military communities given the same grim assignment that Plattsburgh faced.

We hope PARC completes its mission in short order and evolves into local history. PARC would like nothing better, as well.