In a story about the Mayor of Jacksonville and Cecil Field.
"It is clear to me, and I think it’s clear to our City Council, that this community does not want a master jet base," Peyton said.
He later added: "We’re going to lay out steps to halt any effort to return Cecil Field to a master jet base."
In doing so, he brought to an end an almost unbelievable turn of events led by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission that would have resurrected Cecil Field as a naval base.
The base had held that role for decades before it was decided in 1993 to end Cecil’s role as a jet base and transfer its jets to Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va. In 1999, Cecil Field was reborn as a business park.
The BRAC panel decided to offer the jet base and its 11,000 jobs to Jacksonville if the communities surrounding Oceana couldn’t develop and fund a plan to push back development that had badly encroached on the Virginia base by March. Jacksonville and Florida also had requirements to meet.
Those who were against transforming Cecil Field were buoyed by Peyton’s announcement.
"We’re extremely excited about this," said Westside resident Katja Palmer, secretary of the Better Westside Project, which mobilized about 2,000 residents against the jet base proposal. "If I weren’t in a suit, I would be doing somersaults."
"I’m elated at the decision," said Earl Hindman of Middleburg. "I’m glad the mayor listened to the people. This could have been the best thing he did for his re-election campaign. Don’t tell me you can’t fight City Hall."
But some were less pleased with the decision. [Source]
And one of those people would be me. Now it is far from certain that the BRAC commission would have made the decision in March of next year to move the base here, but whiny residents really annoys me. The reason for the complaints was euphemistically said "lower their quality of life" when what they meant was jet noise. Without our military then their quality of life would really be lowered. When I used to be stationed at NAS Whidbey Island the sign outside the gate said that Jet Noise was the Sound of Freedom. The only question should be whether it is a prudentially a good move to move the base from Oceana down to Cecil Field and whether this would best satisfy the needs of the Navy. Now considering that I use to sleep in a rack that was right underneath and between two catapults on an aircraft carrier, I don’t have much sympathy when it comes to complaints about jet noise. The old support the troops, but not in my backyard. Patriotism as long as there is zero inconvenience to it.
When I use to live in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach area there was already major problems at Oceana considering the amount of residential area in the approach path to the base, but about six years back they decided to close down Cecil and move the F/A-18 squadrons up to Oceana. I was fairly skeptical that they would move the base anyway, because if they did it was really boneheaded planning. Though of course the BRAC commission could still make the decision, but it is less likely considering that they were playing Virginia Beach and Jacksonville against each other to receive the best deal. Though maybe this is the first time in history a politician has turned away a major base with all the money it would mean to the local area. So while I disagree with him on the basis for the decision it is kind of amazing.
But several retired Navy officers and at least one congressman said Peyton’s capitulation to a minority from the Westside who didn’t want the base in their neighborhood sends a negative message to the Navy.
"Now, it is important that the Florida congressional delegation come together to work hard to reassure the Navy that they are a welcome part of Jacksonville," said U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., whose district includes Cecil Field.
Retired Navy Capt. John Leenhouts, who testified as an expert on Cecil Field for Jacksonville in Florida’s Base Realignment and Closure hearing in July, said Peyton’s move could hurt the city’s chance to get a nuclear-powered carrier. It could also hamper the Naval Air Depot’s chance to get more work at the end of the decade because the majority of planes it works on now will be retired, he said.
"This sends a strong message to the Navy that Jacksonville is not a strong advocate of the military," said Leenhouts, a former Navy pilot who flew a record 1,645 carrier landings. "It’s a sad day for the Navy and a sad day for Jacksonville."
In a news conference Thursday, Peyton admitted it would have been easier to convince the Navy to move a nuclear carrier to Jacksonville if Oceana Naval Station’s master jet base was moved to Cecil Field. This year, the Navy said it wants to mothball the Jacksonville-based USS John F. Kennedy, and Florida politicians have been lobbying to bring a nuclear carrier in as the JFK’s replacement.
"We’ll do all we can … to find a way and build a case to attract a nuclear carrier," Peyton said. [Source]
Just as long as nobody is annoyed by it.