The continuing federal budget crunch has forced officials at Arnold Engineering and Development Center to close the base’s Gossick Leadership Center Recreation Area, according to Mike Walton, deputy director of AEDC Public Affairs.
The recreation area — open to base personnel and the public — contains a beach, playground, boat dock, boat ramp and restrooms. People on the base usually refer to it as the “main recreation area.”
Sometime during the next two weeks, the area will be closed for an indefinite time, Walton said Thursday.
“The closure is because we don’t have the resources to maintain the beach and the facilities,” AEDC base civil engineer Bill Wendle said in a release.
“Over the past five years, decreases in the operations and maintenance funding have forced us to make hard trades, and we just can’t get it done anymore,” he said. “Our focus is to support and preserve the test mission at AEDC, and that’s where our limited resources will be spent.”
Signs will be posted in closed areas prohibiting the public and base personnel from using them, officials said.
The closures have no impact on base staffing levels, and the Gossick Leadership Center building will remain open, officials said.
The boat dock and ramp are on the 4,000-acre, 56 million-gallon Woods Reservoir but are not the only access points for water recreation there, Walton said.
“There are other boat docks and recreational areas — our family camp, our marina and some of the other boat docks — which will remain open,” he said.
If budgets continue to tighten, those facilities could face closure, too, he said.
Other cost-cutting measures include reduced hours of operation at the base community club and the golf club’s eatery, Walton said.
“Some facilities will have to be closed or their operational hours reduced until we can afford to reopen them again properly.”
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...