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Feds pass up on Navy school in Athens

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - No federal agencies asked to take over the soon-to-close Navy Supply Corps School, opening the door for a possible joint venture between the University of Georgia and the Medical College of Georgia on the site.

The Navy announced Tuesday that federal agencies didn't want any of the Navy school property, making the entire base available to the local redevelopment authority.

An American Indian tribe and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had expressed interest in the site, but apparently neither presented a formal proposal, said Buddy Allen, chairman of the Athens-Clarke County Navy Supply Corps School Local Redevelopment Authority, which will help decide how to use the land.

''There were some rumors of some possible federal users,'' he said ''But apparently they did not come forward. No one has actually filed a completed application as of last week.''

Gen. Philip Y. Browning, executive director of Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee, pointed out that whoever wants the property will have to pay for it. ''Maybe it was too expensive,'' he said.

The redevelopment authority will decide on an asking price with the U.S. Department of Defense, based on fair market value. The Navy school - one of more than 180 installations nationwide that the defense department will close under the Base Realignment and Closure process, dubbed BRAC - is currently appraised at about $60 million.

''We would anticipate the Navy would announce the entire base will be declared surplus property,'' said Fred Bryant, deputy executive director of the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee.

Starting next month, the redevelopment authority will begin taking proposals from nonprofit groups that deal with the homeless. Federal law requires that officials take affordable housing and homelessness into account when deciding how to use closed bases.

The authority could begin to deliberate what to do with the Navy school site in December and make an announcement as early as the first of the year.

In January, UGA President Michael Adams, MCG President Daniel W. Rahn and some University System of Georgia regents met in Augusta to discuss whether the campus could house a venture involving the university and the medical college.

They would not elaborate about what the venture would be.

Georgia is losing four military installations as part of the base closure process. The futures of the other three - Fort Gillem, Fort McPherson and Naval Air Station-Atlanta, all in the Atlanta area - also still have not been determined.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency initially asked for 300 acres of Fort Gillem, which would have given its local authority the rest of the property, Browning said. However, the Army told FEMA they needed to negotiate a better deal because the authority thought the amount of land requested was too large.

At Fort McPherson, the Department of Veterans Affairs has asked for some buildings that include medical clinics. The agency has been granted the chance to purchase the property from the Army for market value, with the rest slated to go to the local authority, Browning said.

At the Naval Air Station-Atlanta in Marietta, three agencies - Air Force Reserve, Veterans Affairs and the National Guard - have requested use of some of the property, and the Navy is in negotiations with them all.