The Arizona National Guard is moving a unit into Gilbert sooner than town officials expected.
The town has been working on plans for a Readiness and Community Center for the Guard to be constructed at a town park beginning in 2007, but this week officials learned the Guard signed a lease for a vacant warehouse at 1224 N. Hobson St.
The 10,870-square-foot building near the intersection of Baseline and McQueen roads will be an administrative hub for the B Battery 1-180th Field Artillery unit, said Maj. Eileen Bienz, state spokeswoman for the Guard. The unit was operating out of an office in a Guard armory in Phoenix.
"They will meet one weekend a month and perhaps during the evenings to plan training, conduct classroomtype training and prepare to move to tactical training areas in Florence, Yuma Proving Grounds and Camp Navajo," Bienz said.
A National Guard recruiter will also be based at the Gilbert facility, which will house Humvees, 2 1/2-ton trucks and mobile storage units, Bienz said.
Gilbert police will establish a liaison with the Guard to communicate quickly about security issues at the site, said police Lt. Joe Ruet.
Bienz said the Guard leased the facility to support the unit until the Readiness and Community Center is completed at Crossroads Park in 2009. When it opens, the Guard will terminate its warehouse lease.
The 32,000-square-foot readiness center will be built on 18.4 acres near the intersection of Greenfield and Ray roads, town parks officials have said. The center is estimated to cost about $7.8 million in federal and local funds, and Gilbert may add a recreation wing to it for an additional $4 million.
The Guard unit would typically use it just one weekend a month and two weeks every summer, and residents could use the facility when the unit isn’t, town officials have said.
There was also speculation this week that the unit moving into Gilbert was the one moving out of an old armory on College Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Tempe. Bienz said that is not the case and that the Tempe unit is still scheduled to operate out of an abandoned firehouse, near the intersection of University Drive and Rural Road, beginning in August.