Former Homestead Air Force Base May Attract Other Branches Of Military
By Shannon Pettypiece
Former Homestead Air Force Base land may be poised to become a military hub as several arms of US security eye land deserted when the site was downgraded to reserve status.
The US Coast Guard is considering the land for a proposed Maritime Safety and Security Team pending federal funding in 2005, said Coast Guard spokesman Jeff Carter. Miami-Dade officials were expected to meet this week with the Coast Guard about the operation, which could bring 100 personnel to the area.
"We are looking at possible sites in the South Florida area," Mr. Carter said. He confirmed Homestead was one.
Ed Bandas, chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee, said the US Navy and Marines have also recently looked at using the underutilized land.
The US Special Operations Command South, or SOCSOUTH, in November announced it would move 150 employees and families to Homestead by March.
The addition of any of these groups to Homestead, such as the regional Homeland Security facility that the county is lobbying for, would be a magnet for other military branches, said the head of the Homestead Re-use Plan, Diana Gonzales.
"This could become the kind of situation where one unit goes in there and finds they can support operations with the services available and we hope that will encourage other military or homeland security units to come," Ms. Gonzales said.
On Tuesday, the county commission voted to support moving additional military to Homestead. In 1993, the base was downgraded from fulltime to reserve status, leaving 595 acres mostly vacant. That land is expected to be transferred to the county this year.
"Because of the variety of operation that they have on site," Ms. Gonzales said, "it moves closer to being a joint-service base."