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Swap talk

Possible land swap between Lakewood and JBLM

Moving business out of the clear zone at McChord is good for the vitality of the base. Photo credit: 62nd Airlift Wing

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The talk about a land swap between the City of Lakewood and Joint Base Lewis-McChord to move businesses out of McChord Field's dangerous clear zone is still just that.


"The land swap is still in its conceptual stages; it is by no means a done deal," wrote John Caulfield, Lakewood's City Manager.

Understanding the substantial economic value to Lakewood and Pierce County of the existence and operation of JBLM, both entities have worked to address incompatible private development in the McChord Field North Clear Zone (NCZ).  

A clear zone is an area close to McChord's runway where the likelihood of a crash increases.  Development in that area is considered risky, and could be considered a demerit against the base during any possible base closure discussion.

"While some progress has been made, the issue has not been fully resolved," continued Caulfield.

Nor is the issue a new one.

In 2007, Lakewood sponsored the preparation of a report that explored the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process and focused on the possibility of annexing JBLM into the City.

That idea went nowhere.

A new idea that Lakewood officials have recently suggested and is being considered for inclusion in the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) Compatibility Report for financing the acquisition of privately held NCZ properties is the sale or vacation of a comparable area of JBLM property and using the funds to facilitate the purchase of privately held properties in the NCZ.

The idea here is that this land would be vacated or surplused, and either sold, traded or developed, and the resulting value used to facilitate the acquisition of privately held properties in the NCZ.  

This approach would benefit JBLM by providing a mechanism to fund the purchase of privately held properties in the NCZ.

One area of interest is between I-5 and Murray Road SW on the west side of Lakewood's Woodbrook neighborhood.

The property is triangular in shape and about 35 acres in size.  The area is currently used for outdoor storage and supports several service buildings.

A historic gate to Fort Lewis (Camp Lewis) is also located near the southwest corner of the property.  

A program to see this land would require agreement by the Department of Defense to surplus the property.  The transaction could then be accomplished in the form of a public benefit conveyance or "negotiated sale for public benefit" which would be facilitated by the General Services Administration (GSA) pursuant to Title 40 United States Code (USC) 545.

Referencing the JLUS, JBLM public affairs officials stated that the study is still in draft form and thus they do not have a public opinion.

The no talk about the talk about a land swap continues.

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