Lewes Army Reserve Center closing in limbo

Federal property was set to be disposed of before reservists’ call to duty
February 4, 2022

The Army Reserve Center on Savannah Road in Lewes was set to close in October, but the deployment of the 946th Transportation Company in November has made its status unclear.

The center’s closing has been rumored for many years, leading Sen. Chris Coons’ office to reach out to the Department of the Army last summer inquiring as to its status.

In a response to Coons dated June 24, William W. Hamilton of the Department of the Army said the 99th Readiness Division that operates the center was set to vacate by Oct. 27, 2021.

After a center is vacated and undergoes required study, a disposal package is forwarded to the Army Secretariat for determination as to whether the property is excess to the needs of the Department of Defense. If excess, the General Services Administration is responsible for the property’s final disposition.

Once GSA is involved, another lengthy process begins. First, the GSA performs a screening for federal interest. Agencies like the U.S. Postal Service could express interest.

Next, the property is considered for homeless use. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, GSA must first consider transferring the property as a homeless conveyance before any other public benefit acquisition can be considered.

If the property is still available, it is then offered to state and local governments, and nonprofit entities.

If it passes through the process again with no takers, GSA will dispose of the property through a negotiated sale or public auction.

When the letter was written, the process was estimated for completion by the first quarter of 2024.

Representatives from Coons’ office did not know the status of the center’s closing, and officials from the GSA were also unable to confirm its status.

The 946th Transportation Company left Nov. 7, on a deployment to Fort McCoy U.S. Army Base in Wisconsin to assist with integration of 13,000 Afghan evacuees at the base. According to Murt Foos of American Legion Post 17, the company’s deployment will end Feb. 19. 

The original 946th Unit of about 40 will be back in Lewes the second weekend in April, she said, with a welcome back event in the works for Saturday, April 8. 

Lewes wants it

It’s no secret that the City of Lewes would like to take over the Army Reserve Center property. With limited space at city hall, the 5.25-acre parcel could become an asset of the city for future expansion.

“In many ways, that would be the perfect solution to our spatial needs,” said Councilman Tim Ritzert. “But we cannot count on that.”

At mayor and city council’s Jan. 10 meeting, Ritzert engaged his colleagues about interest in acquiring more land, whether for use by the city or as open space.

“If this is in fact a need we have, we need to plan for it,” he said. “To help plan for it, it would be helpful if we could have a tool … to be able to create options on land purchases or right of first refusal, or even possibly a land lease.”

Councilwoman Carolyn Jones supported Ritzert’s idea to be proactive.

“I’m coming at it from the open space perspective to prevent additional overbuilding by controlling some of this land,” she said. “We seriously need to start looking at protecting our borders.”

Councilman Khalil Saliba also agreed, saying the idea to purchase more land is supported by the city’s comprehensive plan.

After discussion, it was determined Ritzert will do much of the legwork by himself before a committee is formed to review process, policy and potential properties.

City Manager Ann Marie Townshend recommended the Board of Public Works be looped in at some point because it also has similar needs.

Deputy Mayor Andrew Williams said the city would likely rely on a property assessor to determine an appropriate price for land, but as elected officials, they have some discretion on the purchase price for potential parcels. He noted another option is to have land donated to the city, and he encouraged anyone interested in donating land to contact the city.


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