SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

July 30, 2012

Air Force to demolish local Cold War-era antenna station

IPSWICH — Ipswich’s small part in Cold War history is scheduled to be demolished.

The U.S. Air Force plans to terminate its lease of 16 Skytop Road, which it has used as an antenna-testing facility for more than 70 years. In doing so, the landowners have asked the Air Force to demolish all structures on the 65-acre site.

Demolition is slated to start in October, said John Balch, a member of The Proprietors of Great Neck, a family group that owns the land and has leased it to the Air Force since 1945.

The proprietors have yet to decide what they’ll do with the property once the Air Force is gone, Balch said. The town of Ipswich has expressed interest in purchasing the site for many years.

The Air Force “inactivated” the site in June 2011 and officially closed the facility July 31, 2011, said Sarah Olaciregui, a member of the public affairs office at Hanscom Air Force Base.

The unit responsible for the Ipswich site was transferred to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, and the testing formerly conducted in Ipswich will now be done at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, she said.

The Air Force held an inactivation ceremony for the Ipswich site at Hanscom Air Force Base, complete with an Air Force band. At the ceremony, Air Force personnel lauded the facility for years of cutting-edge work, including the invention and development of several types of antenna technology, radar systems and atmospheric research.

In accordance with the terms of their lease, the Air Force will “return the site to a vegetated state,” according to a May 2012 environmental report the Air Force completed on the Ipswich facility. All structures will be demolished, including driveways, paved areas and a chain-link fence around the property; buried utility lines and oil storage tanks will also be removed.

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