Dole, Burr & Easley Tell Navy Washington Co. OLF Not Viable

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The state's top three politicians are putting their differences aside and telling the Navy that an OLF site must have local support.

In a letter today to Navy Secretary Donald Winter, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Dole & Richard Burr, along with Governor Mike Easley say the preferred site in Washington County is universally opposed and should not be considered as a viable option.

The three also tell the Navy that residents of Gates & Camden counties have voiced their opposition to an outlying landing field in their region. Dole, Burr and Easley say if an OLF were to be located in the state, the Navy must work more effectively to gain support of the local population.

The Navy wants to build an outlying landing field to pilots at Cherry Point in Havelock and Oceana in Virginia Beach can practice simulated aircraft carrier landings.

In the letter, Dole, Burr & Easley suggest that a location closer to Cherry Point might be a better sale to residents who would then see economic benefits of more squadrons being located at the Havelock air station.

Last month Dole and Easley traded barbs over the project. Easley said Dole wasn't representing the citizens of counties that could be affected by the project. Dole said Easley has been opposing landing field sites that he selected.

The Navy is soon expected to narrow its list of proposed OLF sites, though no exact timetable has been announced.