The transfer of Fort Douglas to the University of Utah and approval of more than $100 million of military construction in the state cleared some of their last, biggest hurdles Monday.
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, shepherded them through a conference working out differences in House and Senate versions of the Military Construction Appropriations Bill.Garn, a member of the conference, was able to persuade members to keep the Utah projects in the bill as they voted on a final package Monday. The conference's compromise bill now goes to the House and Senate for final consideration sometime before Congress adjourns, which is expected in about a week.
The bill would fund the transfer of 55 acres of the 199-acre Fort Douglas to the university one year after final enactment. The rest of the fort will continue to be used for military reserve activities.
In exchange, the university would relinquish its legal right to withdraw about 4,200 additional acres of federal land, as allowed by earlier acts of Congress to assist in funding higher education.
The exchange is also being debated in a conference working out differences in House and Senate versions of the Defense Authorization Bill. Approval of the transfer in both bills in needed.
Essentially, the authorization bill gives permission for the land exchange, and the appropriations bill provides funding for it.
In other action, while the nation is tightening its defense budget, Utah came away with a whopping $100 million in construction at its military bases.
"In light of our present budget-tightening efforts, Utah projects have fared extremely well," Garn said. "It also demonstrates Utah's vital role in ensuring a strong national defense."
Projects in the bill include:
- $61.2 million for a chemical arms destruction facility at Tooele Army Depot. The base stores 42 percent of the nation's aging chemical arsenal, which Congress had ordered destroyed by the end of the decade.
- $450,000 for a simulant mixing facility at Dugway Proving Ground to aid in chemical/biological warfare defense research.
- $12 million to build an Army National Guard aviation support facility at the Salt Lake City Municipal Airport No. 2 in West Jordan to house and protect the Army's new Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
- $1.07 million for a firing range at Camp Williams.
- $3.4 million for a dining and medical training facility for the Air National Guard at West Jordan.
Hill Air Force Base
- $16 million for a depot warehouse.
- $2.8 million for an inter-continental ballistic missile, non-destructive inspection bunker.
- $3.25 million for an MX missile ordnance storage facility.
- $3.25 million for an MX stage facility.