Historic ultimatum: Army post could bulldoze notable building

Kevin Keen

Historic ultimatum: Army post could bulldoze notable building

CREATED Aug. 15, 2013
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The building is historic and, unless someone comes forward, its owner plans to level it. Could this be the end of the Black Officers’ Club at Fort Huachuca? An announcement at the Army post in Southeastern Arizona this week has rekindled concerns and controversy.
 
The fate of the Mountain View Officers’ Club, as it's also known, has been in peril for years. The National Trust for Historic Preservation put the building on a list of America's 11 most endangered historic sites.
 
The building has also deteriorated over the years. Paint is now peeling, grass is overgrown and windows are boarded up.
 
But the Black Officers’ Club still has its history.
 
“It represents the extraordinary contributions of African men and women during World War II when the Army was segregated,” said Demion Clinco, president of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation.
 
“This property is one of the most important historically significant properties in Southern Arizona,” he added.
 
Read the National Trust for Historic Preservation's description of the center's significance.
 
Post leaders recognized the historic value, but pointed out the building's been empty for around a decade.
 
“The fact is it's unoccupied, it's unused and we have no real use for it,” Garrison Commander Col. Dan McFarland told KGUN9 News.
 
McFarland explained there is no money in the post’s budget to restore, repair or mothball the center.
 
“Even if it's just $10,000, $50,000 or $100,000, everything is scrutinized right now,” the colonel said, referring to military budgets.
 
The post placed the restoration price tag at $7 million, which includes fixing the building, bringing in new utilities and redoing roadways.
 
So the fort announced this weekend that unless an outside group comes forward with money or an alternative, it plans to demolish the building.
 
"To avoid further life, health and safety hazards associated with an unmaintained and unoccupied building," staff wrote in a news release this week, "Fort Huachuca proposes to demolish Building 66050 [the officer's club] unless alternatives or proposed measures that might avoid or minimize any adverse effects are identified through the consultation process."
 
Clinco argued the military cannot legally demolish the site and rejected the explanation the Army cannot afford to keep the building.
 
“If they can't follow the National Preservation Act and find solutions to preserve buildings like this, then the National Park Service and other agencies -- how can they possibly do it?” Clinco said. “And yet they do and they do it beautifully.”
 
McFarland disputed any such mandate to keep the building.
 
In its news release, post officials announced a "formal consultation process with the Arizona State Historical Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation" to identify its obligations, options and stakeholders.
  
Fort Huachuca is working on a process for people to send their comments. Contact public affairs officer Angela Camara at 520-533-1850 or angela.l.camara.civ@mail.mil with questions.

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