WASHINGTON — Despite reports of “closed” signs, there are still signs of life left in the commissary at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, said Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The Maine Republicans said in a statement Friday afternoon that they have received confirmation from the Department of Defense that no decision has been made on the future of the popular commissary in Topsham, which sells low-cost groceries.

A release issued by the senators Friday said that signs posted at the store announcing a Sept. 15 closure date and new policies regarding product orders “were inappropriate. The closure signs will be immediately removed and the policies have been rescinded.”

Families can save several thousand dollars a year by shopping at the commissary. It’s a benefit that should be retained for the many active-duty and retired service members in the Brunswick-Topsham area, the lawmakers said.

They have been fighting to keep the commissary open. It originally was scheduled to close in March, but legislation pushed through last year by the Maine delegation kept it open until at least Sept. 15.

In June, Collins, Snowe and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, wrote a letter to Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. They noted that they have introduced in the House and Senate similar versions of a proposal to keep the popular commissary open by permitting the sale of tobacco and alcohol as a way to boost profits. They told Stanley they want him to take that proposal into account as he considers the commissary’s fate.

On Thursday, Snowe and Collins sent another letter to Stanley, asking him to respond to their previous letters and urging him not to close any commissary stores until the Defense Department revises its closure policies.

In their joint release Friday, Collins and Snowe said the department has now provided reassurance that no decision has been made on closing the Brunswick commissary.

“We are grateful for the (defense commissary) agency’s timely clarification,” they wrote. “This store is a vital benefit for active-duty military personnel, retirees, guardsmen and reservists stationed in Maine’s midcoast region, and it is critical the Department of Defense take the utmost care in its handling of this facility.”

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

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