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Community leaders on mission to protect Randolph AFB

Military concerned development threatens crash zones

SAN ANTONIO – Fighter jets are familiar sights in the skies around Randolph Air Force Base, and now community leaders are on a mission to keep them there.

Air Force officials have expressed concerns about development around the 90-year-old base threatening the base's missions, according to City Councilman Joe Krier.

"If we view having Randolph Air Force Base and the 3,000-4,000 jobs they bring to San Antonio as front-burner, it's as important as it gets," Krier said.

When Randolph opened in 1926, the landscape was very different, and the military installation was out in the boonies. Now, it's surrounded by bustling shopping centers, commercial development and even new neighborhoods.

Now that aircraft is also much more sophisticated, the Air Force needs to maintain sufficient crash zones and pilot bailout zones, according to the councilman.

Among the specific concerns is birds. Krier said military officials say area development is pushing the birds toward the base where they can get sucked into the jet engines resulting in a crash.

Another concern is noise -- that people will invest in new homes only to later expect the Air Force to do something about the jet engine noise.

"The Air Force is concerned," Krier said. "We've got to come up and furnish them a 20-year plan to make sure their flights are protected."

That plan could include the municipal and state governments finding funding to  buy real estate and ensuring it is not developed, according to Krier.

The community plan should be ready for the Pentagon by the end of the  year, not coincidentally a full year before another potential round of base closure announcements.

KSAT has reached out to other District 9 City Council candidates for statements on Randolph Air Force Base. Below are the responses made available:

Jeffry Van Slycke:

 

"Yesterday, Brig. Gen. Robert LaBrutta, Commander of Joint Base San Antonio shared grave concerns about the continued development in the flight training areas and vicinity of Randolph Air Force Base which could jeopardize the safety of flight training, and ultimately the value of the Air Force Base here in metro San Antonio. While little information has been released publicly, without question, our community must examine ways to intercede and reverse development in the area. As we learn more: 1. A long term assessment should be completed, ensuring that any actions taken to respond to General LaBrutta's alarm will address any and all other safety concerns in the future, and 2. With Base Realignment and Closings rapidly coming upon us, as we partner with our military services, we need to know that our community's investment on behalf of the Air Force would be valued for many years to come. As a community, we need to share the concerns with our residents so that informed decisions can be made. It is concerning that this issue arises in the form of a crises. Nonetheless, we must respond to the call."

 

Lori Slusher:

 

"San Antonio has a long history with the U.S. military, and it is a major part of our local economy. We appreciate the work that our servicemen and women do, and are proud they call San Antonio home. Krier has suggested we use taxpayer money to buy up surrounding land, but cannot guarantee BRAC will not find another reason to close Randolph. No one can. We could spend millions of our hard earned tax-dollars and have nothing to show for it. While I'm in favor of working with the military to keep Randolph Air force Base open, I'm not in favor of yet another government bailout, or waste of taxpayer money."

 

Rich Castonon:

 

"The military presence in South Texas has a long history, and San Antonio has a rich tradition as a military town. The veterans have had large responsibilities in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."


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