The Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corp. is now down to seven employees, from a high of 10 times that. The end is in sight, and the results have been spectacular.

PARC, originally christened as the Plattsburgh Intermunicipal Development Council, was formed in 1995 with the closure of Plattsburgh Air Force Base. At the time, there was some public sentiment to simply shutter the base, demand that the federal government level it and return the 5,000 acres to the field it had been before the Air Force built the impressive installation it became.

But, fortunately, more visionary minds prevailed, and PIDC/PARC has more than lived up to expectations. As one-time PIDC Chairman Herbert O. Carpenter pointed out last week, this area couldn't have built all the assets it received free from the government. It would have cost $1 billion, he suggested, so the area had no choice but to take it over. He was addressing a commemoration of the publication of a book called "Flying High Again -- PARC's Redevelopment of Plattsburgh Air Force Base." PARC had hired New Jersey author Marian Calabro, to document PARC's struggles in converting an abandoned Air Force installation into a site alive with redevelopment.

Why was this book commissioned?

To recognize people who have helped PARC's efforts along the way and to act as a kind of primer for future communities similarly stricken with a sudden and perhaps unexpected closure of an enormous resource.

The book is a fascinating and well-documented and -crafted account of the creation of new prosperity after the demise of the base. Only 18 of 190 parcels are left to be sold on the base, according to PARC accounts. That is a remarkable record of success after 12-plus years of marketing.

The four chief executive officers at PARC were all cited during the public reception last week for their unique contributions: David Holmes, Mark Barie, Daniel Weineke and Bruce Steadman. Holmes was the man who actually got the effort under way by establishing the organization and the mechanism for marketing. He felt he was not always well treated by the local media, but, speaking for the Press-Republican, PIDC/PARC created itself -- unelected and, without oversight, unaccountable. We were not wary of Holmes himself, but of the process that wasn't obliged by law to explain itself to the public.

But the process worked. It is now a model for other counterparts, now and into the future.

We will paraphrase Carpenter as he had a word of praise for Steadman and a point we hadn't thought of up until then: He deserves a special word of thanks for accepting the position of CEO at a time PARC was winding down its operations. Among other things, it is his job to escort PARC to its own termination, at a time when he should be at the height of his own professional potential. Surely, he could have feathered his own nest more suitably than taking a job defined for early conclusion.

You'll want to get a copy of "Flying High Again" and take note for yourself of PARC's inestimable contribution to North Country prosperity.

Recommended for you