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North Versailles Naval Reserve Center prepares for move

| Thursday, May 8, 2014, 3:56 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
In the days ahead of the dedication for a new Naval Reserve center near Pittsburgh International Airport, the present center in North Versailles Township remains busy. A new Navy center will be opened on June 2 while a new Marine center is planned nearby, both in the neighborhood of the 911th Airlift Wing area politicians are trying to save.

The Navy now has a date certain for its departure from its reserve center in North Versailles Township — and the Marines soon may move, too.

A dedication ceremony for the Navy's new Operational Service Center is scheduled for June 2 at 2 p.m. at their new location on the 911th air base in Moon Township, near Pittsburgh International Airport, said Gary J. Ross of the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

Proponents of keeping what officially is the Air Force's 911th Airlift Wing at the international airport are bolstered by the Navy's move to the new 29,999-square-foot building.

“Having the Naval Reserve there is one of the reasons why (the Air Force) should preserve the 911th,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, said during a January visit to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank in Duquesne. “It is a great footprint for national security.”

PJ Dick, a former West Mifflin company now based on Pittsburgh's North Shore, had a $10.558 million contract for the two-story Moon Navy center in a joint venture with Construction Performance Management LLC of Mt. Lebanon.

The dedication will be the first event during a Navy Week celebration in the Pittsburgh region. The week will end with a Blue Angels Air Show June 7-8 at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe.

The Navy is planning a $17.65 million Marine reserve center in the Clinton area of Findlay Township. Funding for that center is included in a $6.6 billion military construction bill approved by the U.S. House on April 30.

Matt Dinkel, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said the House vote is the first step in a legislative process aimed to produce a federal budget before the start of the 2014-15 fiscal year on Oct. 1.

The Findlay reserve center would bring together four Marine units including the Military Police Company Bravo, Fourth Law Enforcement Battalion, Force Headquarters Group, now stationed at the North Versailles center.

In turn, what's left would be a vacant building constructed in 1993 on a 12.66-acre plot along East Pittsburgh-McKeesport Boulevard acquired by the federal government in 1996 for $5.55 million.

“We have no idea what is going to happen to that building,” said North Versailles planning, development and code enforcement director Allen R. Wagner.

In a 2012 interview, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, a Navy reservist, said the North Versailles building was “cracking in numerous places” and structurally unsound.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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