Virginia Beach city leaders thanked Governor Bob McDonnell today for continuing to fund the city-state partnership that continues the response to encroachment and safety issues around Naval Air Station Oceana. McDonnell recently included $7.5 million in his FY14 budget amendments to help buy incompatible homes, businesses and properties around the master jet base.
“Seven years ago, we partnered with the commonwealth and promised to do whatever it takes to save Oceana,” said Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. “We take this promise very seriously. We are grateful to Governor McDonnell, the General Assembly and Terrie Suit, the state Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, for maintaining this vital partnership. It means so much to our military men and women, to the City of Virginia Beach and the nation.”
Each year since 2007, the city and state have dedicated $7.5 million each – a total of $15 million annually – to buy properties around the master jet base from willing sellers. This prevents the development of new homes and businesses that are incompatible with the jet base’s mission, and rolls back existing incompatible developments. The city and state began this program in response to a 2005 recommendation from the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission to move the master jet base from Virginia Beach.
Governor McDonnell said, “The $7.5 million in funding for the Oceana partnership is a continuation of sound policy ensuring that the area around Naval Air Station Oceana is safe, the military training mission is enhanced and the economic and cultural benefits of the base remain in the Commonwealth for years to come. The memory of the Easter plane crash near the installation should remind us that this partnership is essential to protecting the public’s safety. Additionally, the base represents a significant source of jobs and economic activity for the region. It is critical that it remain in Virginia.”
Secretary Suit added: “I am pleased that the governor continues to support the important contributions of Naval Air Station Oceana. The proposed amendments reinforce Virginia’s commitment to our military and to this installation while enhancing the safety of the area around the base as a whole. The governor’s budget ensures that the critical partnership with the City of Virginia Beach and the Department of Defense continues. Virginia as a whole enjoys the benefits of Naval Air Station Oceana and the precious freedom protected by all who serve there.”
To date, the city and state have bought 1,879 acres around Oceana and have eliminated 52 incompatible businesses and 550 homes and potential homes near the base.
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