Study presents scenario in which Fort Campbell is cut by half - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Study presents scenario in which Fort Campbell is reduced by half

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FORT CAMPBELL, KY (WSMV) -

Some residents say there's a major question going around the communities around Fort Campbell. What would happen if the post was cut by half? That's one possible scenario in a new military study.

At the Pack Rat Military Surplus in Clarksville, the only thing to outnumber the laced up boots on shelves and hanging uniforms are the stories told by 78-year-old owner David L. Coate.

"I'll be 78 August 2," said Coate. "Everyone asks, 'Why do you say you're older?' I say, 'It kinda makes me feel mature.'"

Coate said he is a Vietnam veteran, and his favorite story was on the set of the Green Beret with John Wayne.

"He came up and tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'Y'know, I'd like to take you to Hollywood and make you a star,'" said Coate.

Coate said he turned down the Duke out of a love for the military. 

"I said, 'Mr. Wayne, I'm going to stay here and be an officer and a gentleman.'"

Now some worry Coate's military town could see a lot less hustle and bustle and a lot more quiet boulevards.

An Army assessment just released looks at a downsizing scenario in which the Fort Campbell population drops by 16,000 by 2020, half the post's population. The study said that scenario could mean a drop of 40,000 people and a loss of nearly a billion dollars to the surrounding areas.

Coate said he's confident the Pack Rat and other area businesses could survive.

"Look at what's happened to other towns," said Coate. "I've seen towns dry up and blow away but not here in Clarksville. It's got a good solid foundation."

His neighbor at Customer First Team Perfect Auto Detail doesn't share in his optimism. 

"I would say probably roughly 60 percent, 65 percent of my customers are military," said Vincent McAllister. "That would be a loss to a lot of people, not just me, on the boulevard. We'd have to definitely do something else."

Fort Campbell officials said nothing has been mandated, and it's important to remember that right now, this is only a study.

Clarksville city and county officials met at Fort Campbell on Tuesday to discuss that study.

The study also claims Clarksville Montgomery County Schools could see a major drop in population due to families moving under the scenario. School officials said they've seen a lot of studies that never came about through the years, and they don't want to comment on this one too early.

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