Following a tour of the shuttered Friday with local and state officials, Congressman Pat Meehan pledged his support for federal help in redeveloping the lion’s share of the 1,100-acre parcel.
Meehan (R-7), who will represent a large portion of Horsham – provided the congressional redistricting is not challenged as was the case with the redistricting maps for state representatives - told press gathered at in Horsham that his hope is to “get a baseline on understanding exactly what is at play.”
“My impression is what a remarkable opportunity for this region,” Meehan said, noting the benefits of the region’s transportation and other attributes. “How does that fit into the plans that are being made for our region?”
Even if Meehan does not end up representing Horsham, he said it “wouldn’t change our regional interest” in seeing the largely vacant land seeing a new life.
The Horsham Land Reuse Authority last week for 862 acres of the former base. The body is set to adopt the final plan at its March 21 meeting just in time for the March 31 deadline for the federal government.
Officials have said that to be successful in developing what amounts to roughly 8 percent of Horsham Township, a series of public and private partnerships are necessary.
“This whole process is going to have to be a cooperative process,” State Rep. Todd Stephens (R-151) of Horsham, said. “We’re going to all need to pull our weight.”
Meehan, a Cheltenham native, said he didn’t know, specifically, what, if any, federal grants might be available for the site’s redevelopment. The next step, he said, is to work with the state transportation authorities to “create the support network” to use state funds for various highway improvements.
Superintendent Curtis Griffin, who also serves on the HLRA board, said he hoped that the approximate $650,000 in federal impact aid currently paid to the district annually would continue until the base is able to be redeveloped. Officials have said it may take as long as two years for the federal government to approve the HLRA’s plan and carry out a necessary environmental impact statement.
“We are behind in being able to receive revenues that might be generated from the development of the base,” Griffin said. “I hope that would be considered.”