By Jonathan Phelps
---- — IPSWICH — Passers-by might be wondering what the men in hazardous materials suits are doing at the shuttered U.S. Air Force antenna-testing facility on Skytop Road.
They are conducting asbestos abatement, according to Tim Dugan, a spokesman for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The bulk of the work will be completed by April 1, he said in a statement.
“The pedestrians are perfectly safe as long as they don’t enter the restricted construction site,” Dugan said.
The facility, on Ipswich’s Great Neck peninsula, was used for testing and research on Cold War-era antenna and radar technology. The Air Force has leased the property from the Proprietors of Great Neck, a family group that owns the land, since 1945.
The Air Force inactivated and officially closed the facility over the summer of 2011. Upon termination of the lease, the landowners have asked the Air Force to demolish all structures on the 65-acre site.
Upon closing the Great Neck facility, the Air Force transferred its unit to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. The testing formerly conducted in Ipswich is now done at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
The facility sits atop of a large hill in a residential neighborhood, overlooking the Parker River–Plum Island Sound Estuary.
“The purpose of the project is to restore the site to conditions similar to those encountered on the site when the U.S. Air Force first occupied the location in 1943,” Dugan wrote. “The site has been leased by the U.S. Air Force since the end of World War II and has served as an antenna-test facility since that time.”