BERLIN — The New Hampshire National Guard has decided that it no longer needs its Berlin armory as it puts more resources into the Littleton armory as its North Country hub, and plans to build new facilities in Pembroke and Plymouth.
Located north of the downtown on NH Route 16, across from the Androscoggin River, the Berlin armory was built in 1957, and, for “many years,” according to the NHNG, it had been home to the 2nd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery.
The Berlin armory consists of a 20,608-square-foot main building, a metal 4,000-square-foot storage building and a metal 115-square-foot hazardous-waste shed on a 3.25-acre parcel.
Earlier this month, the state’s Council on Resources and Development (CORD), which is charged with the disposal of surplus state property, contacted the Coos County Commission about the possibility of the county acquiring the armory.
But at its April 10 meeting, the Coos County Commission, by a 3-0 vote, said it had no interest. Any party that is interested, however, has until May 6 to inform the CORD.
On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Greg Heilshorn, director of public affairs for the NHNG, said factors in the decision to vacate the Berlin armory included “changing demographics and a loss of (New Hampshire Army National Guard) force structure over (the) last two decades” that have already led the Guard to “consolidate our inventory of aging facilities.”
The NHNG in the past decade has closed “a combination of five armories and outdated maintenance facilities,” he said.
“We’ve had to be more deliberate about which armories to renovate and which ones to close,” Heilshorn wrote in an email to the Union Leader, adding that other factors the Guard considers include “potential recruiting hubs, ease of access (i.e. proximity to I-93) and cost benefit.”
“We also have to factor in new military construction. A recent example is the $35 million Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke, which opened just over two years ago, and a new state-of-the-art field maintenance facility in Hooksett. In the near term we are looking to construct new armories in Pembroke as well as Plymouth.”
The Plymouth armory, which would be home to the Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 197th Field Artillery, would be located on Route 3A and cost $20 million to build.
With the closing of the Berlin armory, Heilshorn said the Guard’s Littleton armory is now “our North Country hub,” and, as such, it has received more than $4 million in “renovations to include a new armory addition, a new field maintenance shop and a new parking lot not to mention other property rehabs.”