Demolition continues at former airbase
by Jonathan Partridge | Patterson Irrigator
Apr 18, 2013 | 3863 views | 2 2 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Demolition is underway on a former recreation building at the Crows Landing Air Facility on Tuesday, April 16as the former U.S. Navy airfield's air traffic control tower looms in the distance.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
Demolition is underway on a former recreation building at the Crows Landing Air Facility on Tuesday, April 16as the former U.S. Navy airfield's air traffic control tower looms in the distance.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
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Equipment from Castroville-based Randazzo Enterprises moves debris on Thursday, April 11, after a former sheriff's facility was demolished at the Crows Landing Air Facility.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
Equipment from Castroville-based Randazzo Enterprises moves debris on Thursday, April 11, after a former sheriff's facility was demolished at the Crows Landing Air Facility.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
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Castroville-based Randazzo Enterprises demolishes a former recreation building at the Crows Landing Air Facility on Tuesday, April 16.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
Castroville-based Randazzo Enterprises demolishes a former recreation building at the Crows Landing Air Facility on Tuesday, April 16.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
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Earth moving equipment from Castroville-based Randazzo Enterprises moves debris on Thursday, April 11, from one of 10 buildings slated for demolition at the Crows Landing Air Facility.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
Earth moving equipment from Castroville-based Randazzo Enterprises moves debris on Thursday, April 11, from one of 10 buildings slated for demolition at the Crows Landing Air Facility.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
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This sign in a former recreation facility at the Crows Landing Air Facility was taken on Thursday, April 11 just five days before it was demolished.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
This sign in a former recreation facility at the Crows Landing Air Facility was taken on Thursday, April 11 just five days before it was demolished.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
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Workers conduct pre-demolition activities on Thursday, April 11, at a former fire station and administration building at the Crows Landing Air Facility. Demolition on the structure is slated to begin Thursday, April 18.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
Workers conduct pre-demolition activities on Thursday, April 11, at a former fire station and administration building at the Crows Landing Air Facility. Demolition on the structure is slated to begin Thursday, April 18.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/Patterson Irrigator
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CROWS LANDING — The din of crunching metal and breaking concrete filled the air at the Crows Landing Air Facility this week as 1940s-era structures, the former stomping grounds of U.S. Navy airmen, tumbled to the ground.

A demolition crew from Randozzo Enterprises of Castroville, under the direction of Moffett Field-based DEI Construction, upended history as five of 10 buildings slated for destruction had been converted into rubble as of Tuesday, April 16.

The goal for NASA, which owns the portion of the former Crows Landing Naval Air Station where the buildings are being destroyed, is to deter vandals who have targeted the old structures, according to the owner of DEI Construction, Darren Israel.

“The goal out here is to make it less appealing — to make it less inviting,” Israel said Tuesday afternoon as Randozzo workers tore down a former recreation facility.

Workers began cleaning up asbestos March 25, and demolition began April 9. The entire project is expected to be complete by May 29, Israel said.

The airfield, which is west of Highway 33 between Fink and Marshall roads, just north of the town of Crows Landing, was decommissioned in 1994 and ended up in the hands of NASA Ames.

In 2004, the space agency turned over 1,352 acres of the 1,528-acre property to Stanislaus County, which plans to turn the airfield into an industrial center.

However, 176 acres remain in NASA’s possession until the U.S. Navy completes cleanup of underground toxins. That property includes the 81-acre Parcel C, where the 10 buildings are being knocked down this month.

Those buildings provided space for various purposes — storage, recreation, administration, safety services.

An old baseball diamond and dugout are also condemned to demolition.

An air traffic control tower and an adjacent lighting vault, a building containing controls for the airfield’s lighting, will remain standing, but with a few adaptations.

Workers will construct a plywood barrier around the tower to keep people out, Israel said. He noted that the chance of trespassers falling from the top of the tower poses potential legal problems for NASA.

The goal of the entire project is to “lessen NASA’s liability,” according to an email last month from a NASA Ames Research Center spokesman, James Schalkwyk.

Stanislaus County has requested that the tower and lighting vault be left intact for “historical value mostly,” said Keith Boggs, the county’s deputy executive officer.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department has used the airstrip for vehicle training exercises, but the airfield also has attracted visitors who have left bullet holes in the window of the lighting vault and graffiti over portions of the control tower.

NASA had to tear out the control tower windows several years ago after someone shot at them, Israel said.

A neighbor of the airfield, Bell Road resident Jessica Petty, 18, expressed last week that she felt conflicted about the demolition, though she said she understood the necessity for it.

“I’ve lived here (on the West Side) my entire life, and it’s a part of Crows Landing’s history,” Petty said, “…but there are a lot of problems with kids going out there.”

Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com.

Comments
(2)
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alkohauliq
|
April 18, 2013
Sad to see the place go, spent so many summers there with my dad before it was shut down . Was the last place he was stationed.
aviatndude
|
November 04, 2013
I, too, am sad to learn of the vandalism and resulting demolition. I was stationed there from 4/74 to 11/76. My son learned to swim in the pool at that rec center we knew as "The Crows Nest". I am particularly saddened at the loss of the baseball field. I visited there in the late 90's, after the Navy had left, and NASA was on it's way out. I got a little "misty" when I saw that ball field had been named "John Bray Memorial Field". John was a long-time civil servant at Crows. He worked in (he was) the Transportation Department, maintaining our vehicles and equipment. He also meticulously maintained the ball field for all of us to enjoy. John was a cowboy, a notorious practical joker, and never failed to go out of his way to make all of us stationed and working there feel like family. I hope the history being lost there will be honored with a "re-birth" of the aviation roots of the facility. Our economy will rebound, and Stanislaus County will find the master developer needed to build it.


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