10/03/13 — Base, city are considering joint projects

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Base, city are considering joint projects

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on October 3, 2013 1:46 PM

Cooperation between Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the city of Goldsboro could lead to a partnership that would have both entities sharing some services and even, possibly, the base's involvement in a proposed multisports complex the city is considering.

The Air Force Community Partnership Initiative, nicknamed "P4," has led to talks between the city, county and base to see what services they could collaborate on, such as sanitation collection.

The initiative is part of a pilot program installed at 15 Air Force bases across the nation to allow bases to contract directly with local governments and contractors. It is aimed at saving money during a time when military budgets are shrinking.

"We're still in the initial steps looking for common ground. We are facing incredible budget challenges right now," said Lt. Col. Amanda Birch, deputy commander of the 4th Mission Support Group.

Lt. Col. Birch is the partnership broker for the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative at Seymour Johnson.

One example of an existing community partnership involves the base and the Goldsboro Family YMCA. The YMCA had teams that needed a place to play, and the base offered the use of its fields.

"The YMCA operates the league, and we provide the fields. It's a win-win for both entities," Lt. Col. Birch said.

The program is not a "cookie cutter" approach to building partnerships, officials said. The program features a lot of autonomy for bases to contract for services they need, as well as to participate in joint construction projects with local governments.

Lt. Col. Birch said the program in Goldsboro builds on a strong existing bond between the base and city.

"We're looking for a win-win need in the community that we can work in partnership," City Manager Scott Stevens said. "We're working to get dozens of ideas down to two, three or four that really make sense."

The talks are still in the formative stages, taking a broad look at possible projects before narrowing the field to those that would be most feasible.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard presented a report to City Council Aug. 19 about the possible partnership between the city and base to construct a multisports complex on base land, with shared construction and possibly upkeep costs shared between the two. By working together, the base would get more fields and the city would get a complex sooner than if it goes it alone.

Other means of completing the multisports complex that have been talked about have been a possible partnership with the YMCA as well as including money for the complex in a bond referendum.