The 131st Air National Guard unit now based at Lambert appears on the most recent BRAC list.
Members of our Congressional delegation — Senators Jim Talent and Kit Bond, and US Representative Lacy Clay — believe this decision is bad for our country’s military preparedness. We all think it is bad for the region’s economy. The Guard unit has an economic impact of about $110 million for the region. It is responsible for approximately 249 direct, military jobs and 261 indirect jobs, most of them in St. Louis County and St. Charles County. The impact on the City of St. Louis would be negligible.
The military says it made this decision for military reasons. And I am not a military expert. But, Senators Bond and Talent say they are going to fight this. The City will help them in any way we can.
Here’s a little history:
Airport officials had envisioned building a new facility for the Guard unit in the first phase of the W-1W expansion plan. And the airlines would probably have been able to pay for such a facility as late as 1998 or 1999.
But, things changed:Most airlines sustained several years of huge financial losses and TWA went into bankruptcy 9-11 hit and changed national priorities The Guard unit decided they needed more land and a different facility
So, plans for the new facility got moved to Phase Two.
At last estimate, the cost for the new Guard facility had risen to $165 million — far more than the airlines, whose fees pay the airport’s bills, were willing to pay. Unlike the airlines, the Guard does not pay landing fees and pays only a minimal amount of rent.
So, County Executive Charlie Dooley, Governor Matt Blunt, Sens. Bond and Talent, and Rep. Clay sent a letter to the Air Force asking them to meet with us to start negotiations to address the Guard’s needs. The Air Force wrote us back saying, in essence, "thanks, but no thanks."
Then, the Guard unit showed up on Friday’s BRAC list.