Niagara to get new Community Activities Center
By Staff Sgt. Peter Dean, 107th AW/PA
/ Published June 24, 2010
Niagara Falls, New York -- On June 21st elected and military officials gathered at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station for a groundbreaking ceremony, kicking-off the construction of a $9.8 million Community Activity Center. The CAC is slated to replace the existing outdated dining facility and the existing Falcon club, an all ranks restaurant/bar.
In 2005 the Base Realignment and Closure Commission had their sights locked onto Niagara, but due to the efforts of elected officials, Niagara Falls Military Affairs Council and community support, Niagara dodged the bullet. Change did come but not in the form of closure but in the form of an association. Niagara would be the first of its kind, associating an Air Force Reserve unit and an Air National Guard unit. For the 107th Air Refueling Wing it meant converting from the KC-135 to C-130 and for the 914th Airlift wing it meant working side-by-side the Air National Guard sharing, flying and maintaining the same aircraft.
"This is not just another building," said Col. Timothy McCoy, the 914th Mission Support Group Commander. "This is going to represent for us how the Reserve and the Guard forces are going to work together and train together in the future," he added.
"One of the most important things about the activities center and dining hall project is the support it shows for the troops at the base," said Merrell Lane, chairman of the Niagara Falls Military Affairs Council.
The more than 19,000-square-foot building that will be capable of serving approximately 500 diners at a time is slated to be completed in August of 2011 just prior to the assembly of the 2012 BRAC Commission.
"The improvements will only make the air base that much more unique," said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of the 28th District.
"But it's the community of the Reserve and Guard working together here that's going to make an impression on BRAC," says Slaughter. "We're well on our way for certain to become an indispensable base in the armed services," she added.
This project is one of recent and future improvements the base has or will see. A little more than a year ago construction started on a two-story 86,000-square-foot Armed Forces Reserve Center that replaces the existing out dated center located on Porter Road, Niagara County. Once complete the state of the art, joint use facility, will house the 865th Combat Support Hospital, the 8th Medical Brigade and the 277th Quartermaster Company.
According to Brig. Gen. Michael Smith, 99th Regional Support Commander, the total project will include a 15,700-square-foot maintenance shop and a 5,000-square-foot storage area. After completion in August 2010 it will house a combined total of more than 500 Reservists, Guardsmen and civilians.
"As the largest employer in Niagara County, the Niagara Air Base is not only critical to our national security, but vital to the economic well-being of the region," said Slaughter. Every dollar that we invest into the facility translates into more jobs and economic opportunity for Western New York, "she added.
The NFARS is presently home for the 107th/914th Airlift Wings, the Buffalo Military Entrance and Processing Station and soon will be home to the Armed Forces Reserve Center.
"The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is truly becoming a join service installation where other military and federal agencies are combining their services and being good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars," said Col. Allan Swartzmiller, Commander of the 914th AW.
"The goal, is to make the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station the crown jewel of the Air Force," said Slaughter.