- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

ANNISTON, Ala. (AP) - The group steering the clean-up effort at an old Army fort in Alabama has received $56 million to complete the task.

The Anniston Star reported that the money will pay for the removal of unexploded ordnance and stray bullets and environmental cleanup and monitoring at the old Fort McClellan, located about 10 miles northeast of Anniston (http://bit.ly/1nJ5z0g ).

McClellan Development Authority Executive Director Robin Scott said cleanup crews will remove the last of the unexploded ordnance by the end of the year, freeing up land for development projects. Some construction already is underway at the former base, with tentative plans for a retirement community and an assisted living facility.

A developer also has purchased a portion of the property to build a retail center for the future residents of those homes. But finishing the cleanup is key to any of those projects moving forward.

The funding was approved about two weeks ago by the U.S. Army.

Scott said that’s a change from previous years when funding was lower than requested. Including the money approved last week, the cleanup effort has received about $216 million.

“Now we control our own destiny,” Scott said. “We no longer have to worry about Congress’ appropriations.”

Fort McClellan closed in 1999. The cleanup effort is expected to last for 15 more years, but the site will be monitored for any environmental effects after the cleanup is completed.

“We’ll be monitoring wells out here for a very long time,” Scott said.