National Guard plans to build armory in Greenville
The City of Greenville will likely once again be home to an Alabama National Guard armory.
According to Alabama National Guard spokesman Capt. Andrew Richardson, there are plans to build an armory in Greenville “at a future date.” He said officials with the National Guard have spoken with city officials.
Greenville has been without an armory since December of 2011 when National Guard officials closed Fort Robert E. Steiner.
It was one of 13 armories across the state that was closed in an effort to save approximately $7 million, according to officials with the National Guard.
At the annual Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet on Thursday, Mayor Dexter McLendon said he believes there’s a chance Greenville may be in line for a next generation National Guard facility.
“There’s a chance we could get a super armory,” he said.
A “super armory” is a central training point for units across the state.
While Richardson did not use the term “super armory,” he did say that most of the National Guard’s future armories will “house more than just Alabama National Guard units,” and that “in an effort to better utilize space and resources (the National Guard) will partner with other government agencies and departments.”
McLendon said he believes Greenville is a prime location for such a facility given its proximity to Birmingham, Mobile, 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.”
McLendon said the city officials have been working to bring an armory back to the city since the closure of Fort Robert E. Steiner, which was located in Greenville for 58 years.
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.
“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 were closed were located in Georgiana, Grove Hill, Hartselle, Heflin, Linden, Lineville, Millport, Moulton, Ozark, Thomasville, Wetumpka and Union Springs.