Officials eyeing ‘super’ armory

Published 3:29 pm Friday, September 7, 2012

When the National Guard closed Fort Robert E. Steiner in November, Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said he would make sure that the City of Greenville was once more home to a National Guard armory.

Earlier this month, he shared with the Camellia City Civitan Club and the Greenville Lions Club his plan to work toward bringing a super armory to the city.

The armory would serve as a central training point for units across the state.

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“We need a National Guard Armory,” McLendon said. “We’re in the process of working on something, and if this works out it would be the biggest thing to happen to Greenville since the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail was built here.”

The National Guard is exploring building super armories in select areas, and McLendon believes Greenville is a prime location for one of these armories since it is centrally located between Birmingham and Mobile and New Orleans and Atlanta.

“If we had 500 National Guard people in Greenville every weekend, can you imagine what that would do?” McLendon asked.  “They’re going to stay in hotels, they’re going to eat at restaurants and they’re going to buy a lot of gas. We want that to happen in Greenville.”

Fort Robert E. Steiner was in Greenville for 58 years before it was closed in 2011. It was one of 13 armories across the state that was closed.

Maj. Gen. Perry G. Smith, Alabama National Guard adjutant general, said a variety of factors, including the age and condition of the facilities, ability to respond statewide to disasters, cost analysis and the locations of units in relation to their headquarters were considered when determining which armories would be closed.

The Alabama National Guard said the armories were closed to save approximately $7 million.

“This was a very complex process and we didn’t take the decisions lightly,” Smith said. “We wanted to ensure that we gave our soldiers the best facilities and placed them in the right locations to provide the citizens of Alabama the best support in time of disaster.”

The other armories that we closed were located in Georgiana, Grove Hill, Hartselle, Heflin, Linden, Lineville, Millport, Moulton, Ozark, Thomasville, Wetumpka and Union Springs.