Government officials were in Riverbank this past week to write one of a concluding chapter of the history of the Army Ammunition Plant, a past which began in 1942, during World War II. The future promises present and future commercial and manufacturing locations, with accompanying jobs, according to city officials.
Representatives of the U.S. Army, Congressman Jeff Denham and others were on hand to sign paperwork turning over the first of several parcels that make up the facility, accompanied by a certain amount of pomp and circumstance.
The Deed Signing Ceremony was held at the now named Riverbank Industrial Complex, in Building 12, at 5300 Claus Road on the southeastern edge of town. It was the first of six or so transfers that complete a process that began more than a dozen years ago, when the 2005 Congressional Base Reduction And Closure (BRAC) Act finally caught up with the facility.
The Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant was originally built in 1942 as an aluminum reduction plant, operated by Alcoa, producing 48,000 tons per year for World War II aircraft manufacture until 1944.
It was reactivated in 1951 for the Korean War and was the United States’ largest producer of steel cartridge cases until 1958.
It reopened again in 1966 manufacturing mortar shells and projectiles for the Vietnam War and remained in production until 1981.
In 2005, the Base Realignment And Closure commission recommended that this base be closed and its functions transferred to Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois. The Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority assumed responsibility for the site in 2010.
The Oct. 17 ceremony marked the end of 10 years of negotiations between the City and the Army, according to city officials. As part of the conveyance, the City will receive the deed to 24 acres of undeveloped property and bills of sale for personal property left by the Army; another 80 acres will be transferred to the City once the regulatory agencies and the Governor of California have concurred on the environmental cleanup plan. The City will receive the property at no cost in exchange for reinvesting any revenue from the site back into the property for a minimum of seven years.
The environmental problems stem from the years of aluminum work, where the metal leached into the groundwater system. The government will remain responsible for cleanup on the property for years ahead.
“We have worked tirelessly to reach an agreement with the Army that allows the City to continue the productive reuse of the former military site,” said City Manager Sean Scully. “Acceptance of the property demonstrates to the community our good faith efforts to fully redevelop the property into a prime industrial site and a vibrant business hub in the region.”
The City of Riverbank Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) has been providing protection and maintenance on the property for the Army since 2010. During this time, the LRA has attracted more than 40 businesses to the site with about 350 full and part time employees, according to Debbie Olson, currently Executive Director of the RLA.
“With the agreement signed,” said Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien, “the City intends to move forward with a national search for a Master Developer and continue strategic economic development that moves business forward and grows jobs and prosperity in our community.”
Tuesday’s signing ceremony was attended by Congressman Jeff Denham; Paul Kramer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army; Brenda Johnson-Turner, Director of Real Estate, US Army Corps of Engineers; Colonel Lawrence Brown, Commander of the Presidio of Monterey; Tom Lederle, Branch Chief of the Army’s BRAC Division and about 100 community members and stakeholders.
The Local Redevelopment Authority is a political subdivision of the City of Riverbank and the entity responsible for making all transfer and reuse decisions for the Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant. For more information about the Local Redevelopment Authority, visit www.riverbanklra.org.