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CITY’S PLEA TO SHUT DOWN BASE FALLS ON DEAF EARS

SHARE CITY’S PLEA TO SHUT DOWN BASE FALLS ON DEAF EARS

While cities around the country scramble to protect their military installations, this community is actually trying to get rid of its base. The problem is, the Pentagon doesn't want to hear it.

"It's sort of a man-bites-dog situation in that we are requesting the base be closed instead of requesting that it stay open," said city management analyst Dennis Trigg.Imperial Beach, just south of San Diego, is home to the Naval Outlying Landing Field, or Ream Field. About 200 anti-submarine helicopters based at the North Island Naval Air Station use Ream Field for training. The choppers fly in from Coronado, practice their maneuvers and fly back at the end of the day.

For the last three years, officials in Imperial Beach have been trying to get the Navy to turn the land over to the city for commercial development.

Local officials say the 1,300-acre installation, with no on-base personnel, doesn't contribute to the local economy. In fact, they say, the base costs the city money because of road maintenance and other infrastructure costs.

And, they say, the helicopters cause pollution and noise.

Imperial Beach officials maintain the helicopter operations can be done elsewhere, such as the Miramar Naval Air Station or Camp Pendleton.

Navy officials say they need Ream Field.

"It is the only place on West Coast where we can do the type of training that is required," said North Island spokesman Ken Mitchell.

"The Imperial Beach facility is within a short range of North Island and it is also on the water, which allows us comprehensive training at low cost."