The Town of Ledyard has agreed to purchase 20.9 acres adjacent to the Submarine base Wednesday, and while the land is valued at $167,500, the cost is free to Ledyard and could be priceless to this area if the purchase makes it immune from the threat of being closed.
The money for the purchase will be reimbursed by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development on the condition that “the property remain as open space and not be developed due to its proximity to the Submarine Base Blast Zone,” according to a state-issued resolution.
Mayor John Rodolico said, "the property borders other property which was acquired several years ago for the same purpose and that the State of Connecticut will fund Ledyard to acquire this property as part of their encroachment plan to preclude development in the event that the blast zone increases."
If the land remains as open space, it effectively increases the buffer zone between the sub base and residential properties. A larger buffer zone allows the military base to store more weapons and/or larger weapons. And, hopefully makes the base attractive and one that the higher-ups would want to keep open.
According to Rodolico, the purchase is part of plans with the "Connecticut Military Affairs Office to enhance the SubBase in anticipation of upcoming BRACs." (Base Realignment And Closure)
The closure of a Navy base looms in the minds of many Southeastern Connecticut families and businesses who have weathered the threats that the New London Submarine Base will be the next base to close.
In an article published in the Groton Patch:
“It’s not a question of if, it’s when,” said Bob Ross, executive director of the Connecticut Office of Military Affairs. “There will be a future BRAC.”
BRAC stands for Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and the defense department said recently it would request base reviews in 2013 and 2015. The commission makes recommendations about which bases should close.
If Submarine Base New London ends up on closure list, it would be the third time. Groton’s sub base was targeted for partial closure in 1993 and total closure in 2005, but congressional leaders and the local community organized and prevented the cuts.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the president would request authorization from Congress for another round of reviews.
According to the resolution, the State of Connecticut has bonded $50 million for economic and community development. The tract of land that Ledyard will purchase is located at 1479 Route 12 and was previously owned by Frederick J. Volpe of Oxford, Conn.