Lakewood’s neighboring military bases are a significant part of the city’s and Pierce County’s economy and have a major impact on the State of Washington. Fort Lewis and McChord AFB contribute $2.2 billion annually to the economy in Pierce County. Concerns over potential encroachment of development near and in the clear zone for the McChord AFB have increased during the past few years and were especially pronounced during the last round of review by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), which occurred in 2005.
Fort Lewis and McChord AFB were spared from closure in the BRAC final recommendations, but Lakewood remains committed to securing the future of the bases. For many years, the City of Lakewood has urged the federal and state government to acquire the property in the clear zone to protect it from encroachment, without success.
“The military is an integral part of our community and Lakewood wants to ensure the continued presence of the military in our region. We are very proud of our relationships with the bases and want to do what we can to protect these critical regional assets,” said Lakewood’s military liaison, City Councilmember Doug Richardson.
The City of Lakewood is now exploring taking action to acquire the clear zone property and a potential source of funding for the purchase is revenue generated by the annexation of the areas on the military bases that are within Lakewood’s Urban Growth Areas. The cost of acquiring the property is expected to exceed $28 million based on a series of appraisals funded by the State and completed in 2005.
The City is undertaking a feasibility study to determine costs and benefits of such an annexation. In addition to a feasibility study, Lakewood is conducting considerable outreach with area stakeholders.
Lakewood will be contracting with a consultant to complete the study and anticipates that the study will be conducted between June and October of this year.