ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Wednesday marked the end of an era at the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome.
"It basically commemorates the transfer of the last piece of property that was made available as a result of the 1993 & 1995 base closure rounds....it is the end of an era, hopefully never to be repeated again," said Mohawk Valley Edge President Steve DiMeo.
The "Whole Base Transfer" ceremony happened at the Raymond P Urtz Center at the former base, and included live music and remarks and remembrances from people who remember the base in its heyday along with those who recall only too well the sometimes painful rebirth of the surrounding community into something much different when the federal government's Base Realignment and Closure Commission shut down the base in the early 1990s.
We asked Mohawk Valley Edge President Steven DiMeo if Griffiss was where he thought it would be 20 years after the traumatic loss.
"Well I think we were always optimistic that there'd be life after Griffiss. I don't think anybody could envision what that life would look like 20 years after the fact. But I think Griffiss is a bright spot in the upstate economy and has a bright future and if you benchmark Griffiss compared with other installations you'll find it's done very well".
The first property transfers at Griffiss began in 2000 and all went from the federal government to the Oneida County Industrial Development Agency.
"Well there is a tenant actually in that last property transfer the large hangar complex which is occupied by Premier Aviation. That's been under what's called a long-term lease so it's good to have the fee title in place and get rid of the lease with the government and move on," said DiMeo.
Also on Wednesday, the man who was brought to Rome in 1980 to head up what was then the largest base of its kind was honored. Colonel Frederick Tillman moved more than 20 times in his 26-year military career. He and his family stayed, making Rome home after his retirement.