Mustang in running to be home of new regional armory

By Carolyn Cole/Staff Writer

Military officials are considering building a $40 million regional armed forces reserve center in east Mustang, which could bring over 100 workers and hundreds of soldiers to town.

The move is part of the Pentagon’s Base Realignment and Closure plan, known as BRAC. Although Oklahoma’s bases survived BRAC unscathed, 50 existing armories did not and will be replaced by seven regional locations, said Lt. Col. Brent Wright, spokesman for the Oklahoma Adjutant General’s office. Existing armories, including facilities in El Reno, Minco and on SW 44th Street in Oklahoma City, will be turned over to local governments or school districts for public uses, he said.

Mustang Mayor Jeff Landrith said land within his city is being considered for the Army armory, which could bring 2,500 Reserve and National Guard soldiers for training exercises each weekend.

Rep. Colby Schwartz, R-Yukon, said the land being considered is in the southeastern part of his district, which has a west boundary along Sara Road.

While Wright confirmed the military department is eyeing land in the southwest Oklahoma City metropolitan area, until his office can buy the property he can’t announce its location. Until now he said armories were built on donated land, and the Adjutant General’s Office is seeking a change in law to allow it to buy land. Legislators were expected to hear Senate Bill 1026, which would grant that authority to the adjutant general’s office, sometime this week.

Next, he said, legislators would have to approve $1.5 million in supplemental funding contained in HB 1184, allowing the office to buy the southwest Oklahoma City-area property and land in Broken Arrow for another facility.

“We don’t have the capital to acquire the property,” he said, but added he believes the department will be ready to buy the land in two or three weeks.

If everything works out, Landrith said he believes the armory could be a boon for the city, drawing more people to shop and eat in Mustang. He said his community’s location nestled along three state highways, a few miles from two major interstates, as well as its close proximity to the Federal Aviation Administration facility puts it on the short list to receive the regional armory. Although City Manager David Cockrell said he couldn’t discuss it, Landrith praised the city’s staff for working with officials and offering help as far as providing infrastructure, sewer, water and roads to the proposed facility, if it is built.

“We are in the running,” Landrith said.

Mustang’s community could also benefit in cases of emergencies with soldiers able to help support local first responders.

“If we ever have a community disaster we would have an armory sitting in our backyard,” he said.

Although Landrith said the armory could help draw residents to a community, Wright said he isn’t certain that will happen. Studies conducted by military branches show most reserve and national guard soldiers live near metropolitan areas, he said, which is one of the reasons the service branches are consolidating to larger regional centers near cities.

“The taxpayer dollar is what we are trying to maximize here,” he said.

Other facilities will be built on federally-owned land in Enid, Lawton and McAlester, as well as on donated land in Muskogee and on acquired property in Norman. In all, he said it will cost over $240 million to build the seven armed forces reserve centers in Oklahoma.

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