Fort Carson’s growth is on everyone’s radar. By some estimates, an impact of 52,000 people during the next several years will put stress on our infrastructure, health care and other aspects of our community.
But, let us not forget our other bases as we work to support our military needs.
I am talking about Peterson Air Force Base. Has anyone performed an impact study about what would happen to the Springs if Peterson ended up on the wrong end of the base realignment and closure process (BRAC)? Peterson is not BRAC proof.
While I am active with the folks at Fort Carson, I am also quite involved with the folks that wear the blue uniform.
Think about it. What is at Peterson? Some offices and a runway shared with the municipal airport. Unlike Fort Carson, which has plenty of training land, a buffer for development encroachment and mission critical land needs, the mission at Peterson could be accomplished from just about anywhere. Offices and a runway can be found in many places in the United States.
“The men and women of Peterson AFB enjoy strong support from the communities surrounding the base,” said Col. Jay G. Santee, commander of the 21st Space Wing. “We know these communities will work hard to ensure we have the resources needed to be successful as we defend the nation”
If we lost Peterson our city would be in a world of hurt. Bye-bye Lockheed, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton and a slew of other companies which are here just because of the mission at Peterson. The economic impact of Peterson in 2005 was nearly $1.36 billion.
I dare say that the average disposable income is higher at Peterson than at Fort Carson.
Peterson is growing. Currently the base is home to 12,000 people, and projections anticipate as many as 30,000 people by 2030. Peterson is on land leased from the city and is using some of Carson’s facilities for training.
Peterson needs more room. Building One lacks a buffer from the public roads and Marksheffel Road runs next to the east boundary. The Air Force is building a commissary on the eastern boundary.
A mean-spirited terrorist could lob some ordnance over the fence and cause some damage.
“Protecting the base is an important mission and one that’s at the forefront due to the global war on terror,” Santee said. “We need to ensure we maintain sufficient stand-off distances around the base perimeter.”
About 11,000 cars pass through Peterson’s gates every day. Nealy 5,200 indirect jobs are generated by Peterson. The Economic Development Corp. would have to really get to work if we lost the indirect jobs.
While we do need to focus attention on the folks in green, we cannot forget the blue uniforms at Peterson. Losing Peterson could have an equal or more detrimental effect on our community than if we were to lose Fort Carson.
To use a business phrase, do we have some exposure here? I think so.
Community leaders need to work with Peterson officials on issues such as road realignment, base boundaries and the internal development of the base.
Let’s not wait until it is too late.
Lon Matejczyk is publisher of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at Lon.Matejczyk@csbj.com or 329-5202.