Brunswick Naval Air Station is primed for redevelopment should it end up on the final list of bases to be shut down this year.

That’s the assessment of Brian Hamel, who oversaw the conversion from military to civilian use at the former Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire and Loring Air Force Base in Limestone.

The Base Closure and Realignment Commission voted Tuesday to add the Brunswick base to those slated for decommissioning.

Hamel, now a consultant, said Brunswick has “significant opportunity” for a successful future.

He called the Brunswick area “one of the fastest-growing regions in the state. There are a lot of reasons a company would want to locate there.”

The fact that the buildings and grounds have been updated means a company could use it as a turnkey industrial operation without spending much money and time on renovations.

“Timing is everything” in the real estate business, he said.

Given its proximity to Portland, the airfield would probably be best used for cargo, homeland security or aircraft maintenance, not commercial passengers, he said. Loring’s airfield has been used for transporting military vehicles for repairs, as well as private aviation use.

Despite the likely need for cleanup of hazardous chemicals at the site, Hamel said that shouldn’t hinder redevelopment. Toxic cleanup continues at both Pease and Loring years after Air Force operations there ceased.

“It’s a long process,” he said. Cleanup for residential use would take longer than for industrial use, he said.

While local and state officials continue to fight to save the base, Hamel said they would be wise to plan for the possibility of a nonmilitary use, just in case. That’s what happens in the communities where the most successful changeovers occur, he said.


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