Picatinny's new $41 million complex will include munitions disassembly facility

Picatinny's new $41 million complex will include munitions disassembly facility


By:  William Westhoven
Daily Record

PICATINNY ARSENAL — A new $41 million munitions disassembly and robotics experimentation facility will be built at the nation's Joint Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition, which develops armament for all branches of the U.S. military.

The new structure will include a 9,728-square-foot munitions disassembling facility, a 12,537-square-foot robotics experimentation and field operation facility, and five munition-storage magazines totaling 6,000 square feet.

That's good news for the more than 5,000 civilians employed at the center, which is one of Morris County's top employers.

Sen. Bob Menendez, Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-Morris, and military representatives were at the center Tuesday to announce that the complex project would move forward thanks to the acceleration of the approval process.

The project "will secure Picatinny Arsenal's future as America's leader in the advancement of armaments technology and munitions innovation," Menendez said. "Simply put, Picatinny is the brainpower behind our firepower."

The center covers 6,000 acres in Rockaway and Jefferson townships.

Congress approved the project in 2015, but it was placed on a long line-item list of military projects at risk when President Donald Trump's emergency declaration diverted $3.6 billion in military funding earlier this year to construct a wall on the southern U.S. border.

"It is a real honor for me to make this announcement, because I have benefited, for two deployments to Iraq, from the educational material that is provided by the professionals here," said Col. Thomas Asbery, New York district commander of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Menendez got an early tour of the facility, where soldiers and civilian employees will work for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Armaments Center Explosives Technology Division to research and develop procedures to disarm and dispose of munitions in threatening circumstances.

Asbery said center representatives worked with state and federal officials to accelerate the approval process and beat a December deadline for fiscal 2019 projects to retain their funding.

The process included obtaining local, state and federal permits to build the structure on a New Jersey Superfund site that encroaches on wetlands.

Safety-standoff considerations were also an issue to resolve before final approval.

"With timely permit reviews by DEP and the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board, we were able to meet all the milestones for this project earlier than anticipated," Asbery said.

"Picatinny Arsenal has always played a critical role in the defense of the country," said Sherrill, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. "From the Revolutionary War to today's modernization plans, the work performed at Picatinny strengthens our armed forces and supports their missions throughout the world."

The contract was awarded to Benard Associates in Wayne.