By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"The settlement addresses the fact that the Navy has and will continue to honor its commitment to clean up properties that have been closed to ensure that the environmental conditions satisfy all federal and state regulatory requirements," he says. "We will certainly do that in Dallas."
Beltz says he is barred from explaining (even if he knew) the logic behind cut runway wires or dead sump pumps and the like.
The settlement does not spell out the amount taxpayers are spending to fix the more recent damages, but it's not hard to guess. Mayor Laura Miller, who formerly served as a councilwoman for District 3 where the station is located, says that about $35 million of the settlement money will be used to pay for the environmental cleanup and the rest will be used to "market it and fix it up."
She says the terms of the settlement require the Navy to bring the property to residential standards, though no one sees a housing development in the old air station's future.
Not Miller nor any other city official would say much complimentary of the Navy as a tenant or as a careful spender of taxpayer money.
"When you have a station that's that size, 700 acres, and you go ahead and lease it out to the federal government for a dollar a year, at the very end of the day the least you would expect back is that they'll leave it clean," Miller says. "They left it just grossly polluted and in such terrible shape that we can't possibly market it to anyone else until all of the contaminants are taken out."
Hays, the young pilot who arrived at Dallas Naval Air Station for training in 1942, hasn't seen the station since about 1960. But, after starting his military career there and spending about 20 years flying in and out of the closed station as a Navy Reserve pilot, he's a bit more sentimental than the lawyers, politicians and bureaucrats who are presiding over the once-bustling and now-crumbling base.
"I really hated to see that station close," he says. "You get a feeling toward those things."