When newcomers and visitors to Southwest Central Indiana learn that one of the largest employers in the region is a naval base, their typical reaction is one of confusion.
In fact, NSA Crane is the third largest United States Navy installation by area, contributes more than $2 million daily to the Indiana economy, and accounts for more than $325 million in annual salaries and benefits.
The origin of NSA Crane parallels that of many other American bases. Historically, military installations were located in remote areas, because of security advantages and the need to assemble vast amounts of land.
When the area that is now NSA Crane was selected for an installation by the Department of the Navy around 1940, it was due in part to the fact that it was beyond the range of enemy aircraft and it contained 32,000 acres owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, purchased in the early 1930’s for a state park.
Over time, however, large and successful installations like Crane, which were once remote, tend to draw new surrounding development because of the economic opportunities the base provides. This development can impact the ability of the military to accomplish their mission.
The construction of Section 4 of I-69, which will include exits near the Crane gate and the Bloomington gate, has the potential to attract more development near the base. For this reason, a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) has been initiated to ensure that new development near Crane is compatible with the base mission, while accommodating new growth and economic development in the surrounding areas.
A Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) is a cooperative land use planning study jointly conducted by an active military installation, surrounding jurisdictions, state and federal agencies, and other affected stakeholders. The study will evaluate the impact of planned and potential development surrounding Crane and make recommendations for ensuring compatibility with activities at Crane. The process is designed to encourage better collaboration and understanding between Crane leadership and the surrounding community stakeholders.
The Office of Engagement is supporting this unique type of regional planning process, which kicked off last week. Two committees – a Policy Committee and a Technical Working Group – will guide the development of the JLUS. I am serving on the Technical Working Group.
The funding for the JLUS comes primarily from a grant from the Department of Defense – Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA). The process is being led by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Radius Indiana, and Matrix Design Group, the planning consultant.
It is estimated that preparing the JLUS will be a 14 month process. There will be several public workshops as part of the process. Look for future updates as the plan is developed. For more information about the JLUS process see the JLUS website.