After Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, the staff at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base discovered mold inside the base’s 71-year-old college campus and closed the building.
Other older buildings, such as those housing the family resource center, legal services and relief society, are deficient and structurally unsafe, according to the base. Now, state and local funds could help address those needs and continue to provide resources for military families.
Nearly $6 million in funds will be used to repurpose a former bank building at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base to house military family resources and help accommodate an expected increase in missions, personnel and families set to arrive on the base during the next five years.
The base plans to consolidate the three buildings and four resource centers into one two-story building. The renovated 17,074-square-foot building will be home to the station’s fleet and family support center, the Navy college classrooms and offices, the Navy legal offices and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
Most of the existing buildings were built in the 1940s and 1950s. The Family Resource Center was built in 1970. The base spends about $8.5 million annually to maintain the buildings.
Capt. Mark McLean, commanding officer at the Fort Worth base, said consolidating the three services into one newly renovated building makes sense.
“Once they move out of there, our intent is not to try to repurpose that space because it would cost us money to continue to do that. This consolidation of all four of these organizations is going to be a cost-saving in the long run,” McLean said.
The renovations will be supported through a $1.9 million Texas Defense Economic Assistance Adjustment Grant through the governor’s office and $1.2 million from the city of Fort Worth. The rest of the money will come out of the base’s budget.
A contract is expected to be awarded at the start of 2023 with a groundbreaking shortly after, McLean said. Completion of the project is set for the end of 2023 or early 2024.
The city’s matching funds for the grant enhance Fort Worth’s ability to care for the local military and veteran communities, Mayor Mattie Parker said.
“The Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth is the cornerstone of Fort Worth’s service community, and as a city, we have long been committed to ensuring that those who have sacrificed so much in defense of our country will continue to be able to access the right resources in our city, and this project will be vital in continuing to serve them for decades to come,” Parker said in a statement.
The Fort Worth joint base is expected to welcome five new missions, which includes new units and aircraft, across various military branches. Officials expect this will lead to a 10% increase in the total base population from the over 10,000 people already stationed there.
“It pays to get ahead of that and have this family service network in place to support the increasing numbers for those units and their family members,” McLean said.
Because of COVID-19 during the past two years, the option of telework has helped address some of the issues like lack of space and the closed campus classrooms, McLean said.
The installation has been working to accommodate military needs as much as possible until the renovations are completed, he said.
“We do the best we can with our budget to make sure that we can get an extended life out of them,” McLean said.
Fort Worth Report fellow Sandra Sadek may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.