110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted Jun 20, 2011 - 9:29:17am
Florida National Guard members who now train in Daytona Beach may have to go to Flagler County for their weekend drills.
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, has tentatively secured funding to build a new armory on the Flagler County Airport, to replace the National Guard facility in Downtown Daytona Beach.
“We can’t do earmarks in Congress anymore,” Mica said. “What I’m trying to do is make funds available. ... We’ve transferred some money from an administrative account for NATO. I’ve got more needs at home than in those international organizations.”
If the 2011-12 defense bill passes the Congress, and if President Obama signs it, the new armory could be in place fairly quickly.
“Probably it could be built in a year-and-a-half,” Mica said.
Operations at DeLand’s National Guard Armory will not be affected.
The City of Daytona Beach owns the armory at 405 S. Beach St.
The site is more valuable than the building, and the National Guard’s lease expires in 2013, Mica said.
“Some of these armories are three and four times as old as the people serving,” he added.
The Daytona Beach armory was built in 1965, said Sgt. 1st Class Blair Huesdens, who works in the Florida National Guard’s Public Affairs Office in St. Augustine.
The Daytona Beach armory is a mustering point for elements of the Army National Guard’s 265th Air Defense Artillery. About 270 soldiers meet and train there. Other National Guard personnel of the 265th ADA muster at the DeLand armory.
Two units of the 265th ADA are currently on active duty.
“One unit of the 265th is deployed to Afghanistan, and the other is in Washington,” Huesdens said.
Mica had wanted to find a site for a new armory in the Halifax area, but was unable to locate a suitable place.
The Flagler County Airport is a county-owned general-aviation airport at 201 Airport Road in Palm Coast. It’s about three miles east of Bunnell’s main business district.
Mica also looked at the DeLand Municipal Airport as a possible site for a new armory, but subsequently decided against recommending it.
“The problem with the DeLand airport is that you have a lot of private [users], and you have a lot of skydiving,” Mica said.
The new armory proposed for the Flagler County Airport will cost an estimated $20 million. The construction provision is contained in the $649 billion defense-appropriations bill. The spending measure has passed the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on a voice vote and now must clear the full House and the Senate.
Once funds have been allocated and the budget bill becomes the law, the Department of Defense may then solicit bids for the construction project.
Mica said the outlay for a new armory does not currently depend on the outcome of the congressional debate over raising the federal debt ceiling, “unless we collapse the economy, and then all bets are off.”
The development of a new National Guard facility in Flagler County may be especially welcome news for that county, whose 13.8-percent unemployment rate is the highest of any county in Florida.
Mica said the U.S. Army Reserve may also use the armory to be built in Flagler County. In fact, one Army Reserve unit, the 364th Ordnance Detachment, also uses the Daytona Beach armory.
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