Western Massachusetts Officials Concerned about Future BRAC
As talk of belt-tightening dominates discussions in Washington about future spending, Massachusetts’ congressional delegation is working to ensure that the commonwealth’s installations survive any potential budget-cutting initiatives.
In the short term, state officials are focused on obtaining military construction funds for priority projects at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee; Barnes Regional Airport in Westfield, which hosts Air and Army National Guard units; and Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod. The state commander of the Air Guard is requesting funds for next year to renovate the main hangar at Barnes and to construct a civil engineering building at Otis, reported masslive.com.
Westover has about 3,800 employees, ranking it among the largest employers in western Massachusetts. Barnes, located one town away from Chicopee, lost its A-10 Thunderbolt attack jets and picked up F-15 fighters that had been stationed at Otis as a result of BRAC. DOD spent $77 million to upgrade facilities at Barnes so that the 104th Fighter Wing could take on its new homeland security mission. The Air Guard unit at Otis has been assigned intelligence and engineering missions.