James McCarty, Rob Riggin, Pete Rhodes, Steve Lewis, Dan Goddard, Carolyn Kennett, Montie Taylor, George Knox, and vice-chairman Dan Peterson (seated) look on as chairman Bob Wood hands off the signed deed to Gary Beachner.
To accommodate Congress’ efforts to streamline America’s military operations, in May 2005 the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant was placed on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission list.
Seven years and three months of work to acquire the property from the Army to offset the loss of jobs, ensure remediation efforts and the use of the property for economic development in Southeast Kansas culminated Wednesday when the Great Plains Development Authority signed the deed and bill of sale for the transfer of the property from the Army.
"It's a great day," GPDA Chairman Bob Wood told those present at the signing. "We've come a long way to get here."
Sen. Dwayne Umbarger, Rep. Richard Proehl, Pam Henderson from Sen. Jerry Moran's office and city and county officials attended to witness the signing.
Local business owners and operators, the Parsons City Commission and the Labette County Commission responded quickly to BRAC’s announcement in 2005. Late County Commissioner Jerry Carson, County Commissioner Brian Kinzie, then Parsons Mayor Bill Wheat, Parsons Sun Publisher Ann Charles, officials from Day & Zimmermann, and other members of local governmental units and local economic development agencies’ entered into hours of meetings to determine the best approach for all concerned in Parsons, Labette County and Southeast Kansas by forming a Kansas Army Ammunition Plant Redevelopment Task Force.
Of immediate concern was to retain DZI, which had been contracted by the Army to operate the plant, in order for the company to continue to be a part of the Southeast Kansas economic picture.
State government officials and congressional delegates jumped on board and in 2005 Labette County received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to begin early planning for the potential closure of the KSAAP.
The task force learned the county commission needed to form a Local Redevelopment Planning Authority to handle the initial stages of a discussions concerning transfer of the KSAAP from the Army. The Department of Defense approved the KAAP-Local Redevelopment Planning Authority in December 2005.
The LRPA was responsible for forming a Local Redevelopment Authority to handle transfer of all KSAAP real property, infrastructure, manufacturing, equipment and fixtures on the 21.4 square miles, or 13,727 acres, containing 2,200,000 feet of building floor space, 33 miles of railroad, 106 miles of roads and 178 total pond acres. The LRPA hired Dan Goddard as executive director and in November 2008 transitioned from the LRPA to an actual governmental authority (quasi-municipality) named the Great Plains Development Authority, allowing the GPDA to make formal application for the plant and empowering it to receive the property and develop it.
Matrix Design was hired to perform a comprehensive master redevelopment plan consisting of identifying and assessing facilities, major utilities, transportation assets, natural environment and historic features, environmental issues, explosives hazards, county and region socio-economic conditions, property transfer process, redevelopment goals and reuse alternatives and recommending a land use plan and implementation strategy.
Approximately, 2,600 acres was transferred from the Army to the GPDA in 2010. The GPDA signed an Economic Development Conveyance Memorandum of Agreement with Department of the Army in 2010, purchasing 2,600 acres of the KSAAP for $1, Phase I. Then, 2,000 acres were transferred to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism by purchase, for which 75 percent of the money was received from a federal grant and the remaining from state user fees.
The KSAAP transfer to the GPDA was the first completed property transaction from among the 150 U.S. military installations recommended for closure by BRAC.
Phase II's parcel of land, consisting of a remaining 6,116 acres, was to be transferred to the GPDA from the Army within a few months. Wednesday's signing of the transfer of deed from the Army placed the GPDA among the last of the BRAC military installations on the closure list to complete the entire transfer of deed and bill of purchase.
For the remaining 6,116 acres, the GPDA on Wednesday paid the Army $49,999.
The GPDA will make additional payments to the Army from its gross revenues for a 10-year period, not to exceed $3,450,000.
The Redevelopment Authority's obligation to make additional payments will terminate when the 10-year period ends, whether or not the amount of additional payments totals $3,450,000, or when the total $3,450,000 amount of additional payments has been made to the Army.
The Redevelopment Authority may terminate its obligation to make additional payments if at the end of year seven payments in the amount of $3 million have been made.
The GPDA agreed to pay gross revenues from three sources, and payments will vary by calendar year. The GPDA will be required to pay the Army gross revenue from any land sales, from the second parcel of 6,116 acres, at a rate of 25 percent of the revenue in years one through six; 30 percent of the revenue in years seven and eight; and 50 percent of the revenues in years nine and 10.
Gross revenues from operational, industrial and commercial activities will be required to be paid out beginning in year five from the settlement. The rate of pay to the Army will be 5 percent in years five and six; 30 percent in years seven and eight; and 50 percent in years nine and 10.
Also, the GPDA will pay the Army gross revenue from any rail operations beginning after year five from the settlement, at a rate of 5 percent for years six and seven; 30 percent for years eight and nine; and 50 percent for year 10. If the GPDA pays a third party to operate the rails, that amount will be deducted from the amount of gross revenue, and the GPDA will only be required to pay the Army from the remainder of gross revenue acquired from rail operations.
The remaining gross revenue is to be reinvested in the property.
The GPDA is obligated to submit financial statements to the Army certified by an independent certified public accountant showing that during the first 10 years it is using its economic development conveyance proceeds from the sale or lease of the property as reinvestment in further redevelopment the Great Plains Industrial Park.
Reinvestments may be spent on road construction and public buildings; transportation management facilities; storm and sanitary sewer construction; police and fire protection facilities and other public facilities; utility construction; building rehabilitation; historic property preservation; pollution prevention equipment or facilities; demolition; disposal of hazardous materials generated by demolition; landscaping, grading and other site or public improvements; and planning for, or the marketing of, the development and reuse of the installation.
Eighty-eight percent of the plant was determined to be environmentally safe, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Army.
Hazardous waste remediation is nearly complete in the 900 area, and Matrix Environmental Services was contracted by the GPDA Wednesday to complete remediation in the 300, 500, 700 and 800 lines.
A Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) covenant protects the GPDA, community and any future owners of property in the Great Plains Industrial Park, in that if any contamination is found in the future related to the last 70 years the Army operated the KSAAP, the U.S. government will be responsible for clean up.
Goddard said it seemed the deed had been going back and forth for ages, but following the GPDA's signing Wednesday, the deed will be sent with the check for $49,999 to the Army. The Army will sign the deed and return it, at which time the GPDA can file it with the Labette County Register of Deeds Office.
The board also signed an environmental insurance agreement and signed a bill of sale for 5,880 items (furniture, equipment, etc.) of personal property, allowing the GPDA to sell or use the items for incentive in the sale property in the industrial park.
An agreement with Westar Energy was approved as well, upon the Army signing the deed, for the purchase of the electrical distribution system at the industrial park.
"This is the largest and thickest deed I have ever seen," Wood exclaimed, noting all of those who have dedicated years to seeing the transfer through, including the U.S. Army, that created an opportunity for success in transferring the property for economic development.
"These guys have done a fantastic job. ... It is a fantastic opportunity for Southeast Kansas. I congratulate each and everyone of you. You all stayed with it," Proehl said.
"We've come along way since May 2005," Taylor said. "We've got a long way to go still."
Umbarger agreed, stating there is still a lot to be done to develop the plant into the industrial park it is hoped will help drive economic development "that will affect not only Parsons, but Labette County and Southeast Kansas."
The rail committee for the Great Plains Development Authority toured the railroad buildings and structures Wednesday afternoon at the former Kansas Army Ammunition Plant east of Parsons. Ann Charles, GPDA deputy director, tells committee members Gary Beachner, Pete Rhodes, (both not pictured) and Carolyn Kennett about the locomotive repair building.