IOW supported for taking stand against Navy

Published 9:41 am Friday, December 10, 2010

To the Editor:

The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors was decidedly right in unanimously opposing the dramatically expanded use of so-called “Franklin” Airport.

The Daily Press did report recently that this airport is “technically” in Isle of Wight County — wrong! The whole airfield is entirely inside Isle of Wight County geographically, legally, municipally and every other “ly” I can think of.

Oh, and by the way, the actual name of this “airport” is officially “John Beverly Rose Field” named for an Isle of Wight County resident. Captain Rose was a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who was raised on his family’s farm near Carrsville.

As I followed the recent regional news coverage about the Navy wanting to use the “Franklin Airport,” I was repeatedly aghast at the lack of almost any reference to Isle of Wight County. The newspaper datelines and the TV talking heads all said “Franklin…Franklin… Franklin”

I kept yelling at the TV and shouting at the newspaper “BUT IT’S IN ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY!” (Most of us of a certain age are made fun of for talking back to the TV, but I think it’s a sign of maturity.)

OK, so the current property owner is the City of Franklin. As with any other plot of real estate, the owner must apply to permit a change in use.

Changing from a small civilian general aviation airfield to a 200 day-per-year military practice field for multi-engine warplanes is a significant change in use. The Isle of Wight Planning Commission would rightly hold a public hearing, in which citizens could weigh in on the issue. This was not done.

The City of Franklin and the U.S. Navy are not “legally” obligated to do so. I suppose the big city and the big ol’ federal government just assumed that the citizens of little ol’ rural Isle of Wight don’t count.

I would ordinarily consider it my patriotic obligation to enthusiastically support reasonable military use of any part of my historic county. Indeed, Isle of Wight has a long and proud history of this. A stockade was built at Day’s Point in 1623 to defend against the Indians.

We fortified Burwell’s Bay in 1776 and again in 1812 to prevent British incursion. In 1862 we emplaced large cannon in earthen ramparts at Ragged Island, Fort Boykin and Hardy’s Bluff to deter Northern aggression. In the Cold War the U.S. Army built two bases in Carrollton to support the deployment of supersonic anti-aircraft missiles. Patriotic fervor is not a bit lacking here!

So cheers to the IOW supervisors for continuing the tradition of resistance to outside tyranny and standing up for our democratic ideals to demand the respect we are due!

Albert Burckard