The outgoing commander of Naval Air Station Fallon told local business leaders Wednesday, March 13 the base will grow an additional 10 percent of its workforce and continue its spurt of growth over the next one to three years.
Capt. David Halloran, who steps down Friday as commander of the sprawling air station east of Fallon, is also retiring after spending 27 years in the military. He spoke at the monthly breakfast hosted by the Churchill Economic Development Authority’s Business Council.
Halloran said the future addition of six F-35C Lightning II fighter jets (carrier variant) by 2023 will add both military and civilian workers, and the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center will increase its maintenance contract by about 100 additional people. Based on the air station’s current civilian employment numbers at 2,000, he said the additional workers represent a 10 percent increase. Including additional jobs related to NAS Fallon operations, Halloran said the number jumps to 4,586 jobs.
“With that will be a bigger need for houses,” he said.
In August, the Navy had a ribbon cutting for a new family housing community of 60 homes and a 5,500-square-foot community clubhouse west of the base’s main gate. In the same housing area, Halloran said at the ceremony, 79 houses will be finished in the next couple of years as well as 80 major renovations in the neighborhood next door called Mountain View. The entire project is costing about $100 million according to Clark Realty Capital.
Before the Navy began replacing and refurbishing homes, the air station had more than 300 houses. The initial proposal, though, called for 219 homes, a decrease of at least 100 to 125 residences. Halloran said the base pursued additional construction for more homes, and 83 houses, he said, will come online in three to four years.
In the meantime, he said the housing crunch in the Fallon area has put an additional strain on sailors and their families. Local real estate agents said the inventory of available housing is shrinking because of people who work at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center are now buying homes in the Fernley and Fallon markets.
With the completion of the new houses and more on the way, Halloran said military families will be able to live on base rather than in the city of Fallon or in Fernley. He said the additional housing in the community for civilian employees and additional base housing will be a start in accommodating the new families, whom he said, shop in Fallon and have their children attending Oasis Academy or the Churchill County School District.
Halloran figures the demand for housing in Fallon should drop in 18 months.
Not only will the base grow with military and civilian employees, but construction at NAS Fallon has seen a boom. He said construction projects are ranging from hangar alterations for the F35c training mission, to a new U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center to a wastewater treatment plant in the southern part of the air station.
Other projects have included airfield lighting pavement work and taxiways.
Halloran also touched on the Fallon Training Range Complex modernization that will almost triple the size of the base’s training areas and the Navy’s economic impact to the area. Based on fiscal year 2015 statistics, he said the Navy pumped $517 million into the three-county region of Churchill, Lyon and Washoe, and $22 million in state and local taxes stimulated by the air station’s payroll and spending.