Monday, April 16, 2007

Some readers don't want OLF anywhere in N.C.

Just a day before the Navy holds in Charlotte its final hearing on a proposed jet outlying landing field (OLF) in Eastern North Carolina that critics believe will adversely affect a major national wildlife refuge, some readers are upset that North Carolina has offered to help the Navy find a better site.
Over the past five years I’ve written dozens of editorials and columns criticizing the choice of a site a few miles from the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, and urging the Navy to look elsewhere in North Carolina. That’s essentially been the state’s officials position, as Gov. Mike Easley and others have tried to interest the Navy in other places in this state.
But some readers reacted negatively to the state’s position and to my argument that the Navy ought to take the state up on its offer.
A reader from Winston-Salem wrote:
“I am extremely shocked and disappointed to read your editorial opinion that the Navy should ‘call the state’s bluff’about an alternative site for the OLF. I saw a re-run of “Exploring North Carolina" on PBS recently that featured the New River, and you as the reporter who worked that story into the nation’s awareness. I was struck by the parallels between the effort to save the New River and the effort to avert sure disaster from placing the OLF at Site C. As I understand it, there are also problems with the other sites under consideration. There are also questions as to whether an OLF is truly needed, or whether Oceana itself will even survive in the long run. In fact, there are a myriad of questions surrounding this very controversial proposition.
“It would seem from your editorial that you are pro-Navy, or are at least waving a red flag in their face. I don’t understand this attitude, and don’t think we needed anything like thisadded to the public discussion now. North Carolina has given an incredible amount of her natural and human resources to the military. It is time for another state to shoulder some of the burden, in my opinion – assuming the OLF is even truly necessary.
“I had actually thought about contacting you to see if you could re-create the successful press of the New River movement for the NO OLF coalition. So, again, you can imagine my chagrin when I read your essay. I in fact felt sick.”
(I wrote her back and sent a copy of a December 2003 column making just that point. JB)
And a reader in Hartsville, S.C. wrote:
“Why in the world would you think the state of North Carolina and its representatives in Washington and Raleigh should spend a dime and time in searching for an alternate OLF site? Is the North Carolina economy so fragile that it needs to give away umpteen acres to the Navy in return for a little economic fallout? Go after something productive, for heaven’s sake – such as Google or Toyota.”
And a reader wrote:
“I do believe that the opponents of the Washington OLF site have, repeatedly, pointed to the Craven County site as more suitable. In fact Craven County welcomes the idea and fully supports it. So in fact there already is, and has been a viable alternative to the disputed site. The Navy however, has refused to accept this perfect alternative. It would be nice if in the future you got all the facts straight before acting like a Neo-Con zombie and attacking those who seek to enforce the will of the people of North Carolina in the face of Federal Imperialism.”
(I think I like “Mr. Neo-Con Zombie” better. JB)
And finally, this from a reader not far from the proposed OLF:
“Your column in Sunday’s paper made the suggestion that those people who oppose the Navy flight strip at Roper should offer suggestions for alternative sites. Good thought. My guess is that the problem is not that there are other equally suitable sites, but that once the navy has taken a position it is not likely to change it. I don’t know what you could call it but it seems that once a high ranking official has taken a position on a matter it results in a loss of face if he or she is forced to back down. If the truth were to be known that site was selected after a casual glance at a map of the area without any thought given to the consequences. I don’t know what to do about that part of it, but if the Navy were open-minded about site selection, I can offer several which could meet their needs. And they are well aware of these locations. Up the Delmarva peninsula from Cape Charles is a flight strip at Melfa. North of Melfa is the old Navy base at Chincoteague,Va. Just outside the Oceana base perimeter is an old flight strip at Pungo. Near Englelhard, N.C., Hyde county has a fight strip already in place and my guess it is hardly ever used. It is in a wilderness area and may be too near the NWR to be acceptable. Then there is Cherry Point MCAS; a little far away from Oceana but only a few minutes in a jet and is probably the best choice of all as it is in the family. It is a permanent base and already has an officers club.
“I’m glad you are staying behind this thing and look forward to reading your next ‘installment.’”

11 comments:

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