Cavalier County Republican

Copyright © Langdon, North Dakota       Monday, November 22, 2010
(Reproduced with permission)

JDA Town hall meeting reactions

By Michele Gratton
Republican Editor

On Wednesday, Nov. 10 Cavalier County Job Development Authority (CCJDA) sponsored a community town hall meeting to discuss the plans for the redevelopment of the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (SRMSC). The meeting was well attended with close to 100 community members present.

The complex is comprised of a main 430 acre Missile Site Radar (MSR) facility located near Nekoma and four Remote Sprint Launchers (RSLs), located 10-20 miles away in Cavalier, Walsh and Ramsey counties. The MSR facility and one of the RSLs retain most of their original buildings, roads and infrastructure.

A number of government agencies, community leaders and commercial entities have identified future uses for the complex. There is considerable interest in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) research and operations, education, technology development, light manufacturing and training.

CCJDA has partnered with the University of North Dakota (UND), state, local, community and Federal government leaders to create a strategic plan to redevelop SRMSC.

The Strategic Plan, completed in April 2010, emphasizes three new Missions for the complex:

"This is a once in a generation opportunity for this community," Carol Goodman, director of CCJDA, says.

CCJDA retained SeaTec LLC to conduct a detailed site assessment and to devise a strategic redevelopment plan for SRMSC.

It has always been the plan of the CCJDA to engage in this process in an organized way.

Some of the comments or questions from the attendees of the town hall meeting on Nov. 10 included questions of cost to the community, the county and the taxpayers of the area.

The recommendations for the plant will include refurbishing current buildings, construction of runways, launch pads, aprons and hangars for UAS systems, and preservation of the current historical structures.

The overall theme of this project has been that the leadership of the community, including the CCJDA and City Commission, has followed the status of the site actively since 1998 when the potential of the site was used as missile protection.

In the last three years CCJDA has engaged in the BRAC process, viability studies, retaining consultants and monitoring funds for the future.

The major challenge of this whole project has been to be sure not to get ahead of the game to the detriment of the other pieces of this project.

The question was asked if the wind towers in the area will effect the current ideas for UAS. The wind towers should not be an issue. The locations of the towers are known so the UAS will not have an issue, neither would regular manned aircraft.

There was also a question raised about additional police and fire protection funding. Who would be responsible for that cost? Those costs have been added into the amount budgeted in the feasibility studies. There would be no additional cost to individual fire or police protection agencies.

Other points covered were whether or not the taxpayers would be responsible for repayments of loans, what type of radar will be used and will the existing par site interfere with any of the new systems.

Taxpayers will not be responsible for any of the loans. Each project will stand alone.

The radar used will be much like the original site but only on a much smaller scale.

And the current par site will not interfere with the planned project.

It was discussed that when the GSA is ready to release the property that the CCJDA could acquire the site at no cost.

The GSA has requirements that would release that property at no cost due to the fact that one-third of the property would be used as historical and one-third would be used as educational.

The value of the land is unknown. There has not been a tax revision since 1969. The CCJDA has estimated that most of the land could be sold as hay land with an average price of $325 per acre.

"We will do as much as we can to keep the community up to speed, with more meetings, starting in 2011," Goodman states.