RIVERBANK, California -- The U.S. Army turned over 28 undeveloped, environmentally-safe acres of Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant property to the city at an Oct. 17 ceremony.

The RAAP closed in 2010 under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act.

Paul Cramer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, presided over the event and joined Congressman Jeff Denham in speaking at the ceremony.

"Today is a great opportunity to celebrate a new start for the city of Riverbank and for the former Army depot here in Riverbank," Cramer said. "Since its closing in 2010 the Army has enjoyed a great partnership with the city of Riverbank in preparing for future productive use of the property."

Riverbank Mayor Richard O'Brien and Brenda Johnson-Turner, Director of Real Estate for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, signed the memorandum of agreement that transferred the land to the city. The agreement formally removes the 28 acres from the Presidio of Monterey property records.

"We have worked tirelessly to reach an agreement with the Army that allows the city to continue the productive reuse of the former military site," said Sean Scully, Riverbank city manager.

The plant's developed area of 74 acres is home to numerous industrial buildings that house 40 small businesses employing 300 workers. After federal regulatory agencies and the state of California agree on an environmental cleanup plan, the Army will turn that land over to Riverbank.

"The city has leased the RAAP property from the Army since 2010 and has enabled the city to sustain the property and build momentum towards ownership and redevelopment," Cramer said.

The next steps for the city is a search for a master developer and strategic economic development, O'Brien said, "that moves business forward and grows jobs and prosperity in our community."