Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Want Others Heard on Cecil; They Are Suggesting the Public and the Navy Weigh in for the Record

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Legislators Want Others Heard on Cecil; They Are Suggesting the Public and the Navy Weigh in for the Record

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY PIATT

Some local state representatives would like to have town hall meetings to discuss whether Jacksonville should reopen Cecil Field as a Navy jet base.

They hope Mayor John Peyton would be open to letting the Westside and others discuss the opportunity instead of rushing to the decision of not reopening the base now that the city has a second chance at the getting it.

Peyton and the City Council rushed to support bringing the base here last year, only to pull the plug on the plan when Westsiders voiced opposition to reopening the base, said state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Green Cove Springs.

"At this juncture, we need to look at the lessons learned," Carroll said.

Peyton reiterated last week the city's position that it won't pursue the base after the Pentagon's inspector general said Florida would have an opportunity to get the base if it fulfilled certain criteria set by last year's federal base closing commission. Peyton said the city will pursue private sector investment for Cecil.

"Jacksonville's decision has been made, and I think the majority of our citizens are happy with it," the mayor said in an opinion article Sunday in the Times-Union.

The Base Realignment and Closure commission examined moving about 200 jets from Oceana Naval Air Station because of encroaching development around the base, which is in Virginia Beach, Va. Under its recommendation, the BRAC commission set six criteria Virginia Beach needed to follow and had until March 31 to establish programs that would roll back the encroachment.

Last week the inspector general said Virginia Beach met only five of the criteria, thus opening the door for the base to come to Jacksonville. Florida has until the end of the year to signal its intent to turn over the land of the former base and to provide money to fund relocation of businesses now at the commerce center. …

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