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Naval Air Station Glenview

NAS Glenview was a COMNAVRESFOR air station serving the north central US. In September 1995 the U.S. Navy hosted a closure ceremony for NAS Glenview, marking 58 years of support for national defense. NAS Glenview provided facilities, services, materials, and training in direct support of all assigned units for their mobilization mission. The units included two P-3 (VP-60 and VP-90) Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW Squadrons, one Logistic Support Squadron (VR-51), one Marine Air Control Group (MACG-48) including a C-130 Transport Squadron (VMGR-234) and a Light Helicopter Squadron (HML-766), ten Fleet Intelligence Support Units and numerous other Navy and Marine reserve units. The U.S. Army 86th Army Reserve Command was a tenant activity having a mixture of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, Chicago was a tenant having facilities and helicopter aircraft for search and rescue operations over the Great Lakes.

The United States Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Great Lakes, Illinois, was commissioned in 1923. The base operated a number of seaplanes from the shore facilities of nearby Lake Michigan. The Curtiss-Reynolds Airfield was built in 1929 by the Curtiss Flying Club, a subsidiary of the Curtiss Corporation established by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss.

In 1940 Rear Admiral John Downes, USN, Commandant, Ninth Naval District recommended that the Naval Researve Aviation Base be moved to the Curtiss-Reynolds Airport. The Navy petitioned for condemnation of the 319-acre tract and the court ordered payment of $530,000 for the property.

With the outbreak of World War II, the field became a focal point for the Navy's expanded flight training program and a Primary Training Command. A massive construction program ($12,500,000) was begun in 1942. Prior to expansion, the station consisted of barracks, 20 officers, 120 enlisted men and less than 100 cadets. In only 212 working days, 1,300,000 sq. yards of concrete were placed for landing mats and runways. Hangars, administration buildings and classroom buildings followed. An additional 569.55 acres were purchased adjacent to the field, west of Shermer Road and south of old Lake Avenue. These acquisitions included the remainder of the old Herman Rugen property and the 36-hole Pickwick Golf Course. In 1943 the station was designated a Naval Air Station and recognized as NAS Chicago. It had grown to 300 officers, 1,000 cadets, and 3,500 enlisted men.

Commissioned in March 1969 by then-Commandant Willard J. Smith, Coast Guard Air Station Chicago was the primary Search and Rescue unit for southern Lake Michigan, responsible for the waters from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Muskegon, Michigan and south to Gary, Indiana. The station is located 45 minutes by car from downtown Chicago on the northwest corner of NAS Glenview between the villages of Glenview and Northbrook. A major rescue operation occurred on December 27, 1985 when the F/V Searcher sank approximately 17 nautical miles east of Chicago in Lake Michigan. Three of the six crewmembers could be rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter from USCG Chicago; the other three were trapped inside the vessel and died.

In April of 1995, Air Station Traverse City gained operational responsibility for what was CG Air Station Chicago. Renamed CG Air Facility Glenview, this station is located in Glenview, Illinois and consists of a multipurpose hangar and office facility and a public works building. Air Facility Glenview stages one of Air Station Traverse City's HH-65A helicopters with two full crews during the busy search and rescue season from April through mid-November.

On June 29, 1998, the Navy transferred the latest segment of the closed Naval Air Station Glenview (BRAC 1993) from Navy ownership to private ownership. The Village of Glenview, Illinois, the Local Reuse Authority (LRA), now owns over 90% of the closed and transferring portion of the base. The first transfer occurred in September 1997. The remaining 10% was scheduled to be transferred by October of 1999. This last 10% contained the remaining sites that require some form of remedial action. The 90% milestone was due to the fact that the operational closure of the base occurred in September of 1995, just two years after the base was selected for closure in BRAC III. Since then, much of the base property had been idle. The new use plan for the base is different from the previous airfield use, so much of the land and facilities will require extensive demolition and redevelopment before this area becomes productive again.

The importance of the redevelopment effort is significant. NAS Glenview was located in the geographic center of the Village of Glenview and contained 15% of the landmass. Once redevelopment planners decided not to use the existing infrastructure as an airfield, alternate plans were developed. The resulting plan called for a "mixed use" scenario providing open space and public land, senior and residential housing, recreational and sports areas, mixed retail areas, a business park with an area used as a "prairie reserve", and a new train station. Since the existing air base infrastructure had to be demolished to make room for a new supporting infrastructure, it was important for the LRA to develop the base in systematic stages.

Gone are 1 million cubic yards of concrete, 1.5 miles of runways and 108 U.S. Navy buildings. In their place is The Glen, a 1,121 acre mixed-use district, with new homes, offices, and retail space.

According to the Glenview Hangar one Foundation, 85% of Hangar One has been dismantled even following Navy efforts to preserve historical buildings.

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