Virginia Beach has asked Gov. Robert McDonnell and the General Assembly to restore $7.5 million to the state budget to keep a promise to Naval Air Station Oceana and the Defense Department.
In response to the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) order, the city and state launched an annual $15 million land acquisition program. Because of encroachment, the Closure Commission wanted to move Oceana’s jets. During the past five years, the city has worked closely with the Navy to prevent new development around the jet base and to roll back existing development. Since 2007, Virginia Beach and the state have split the annual $15 million to purchase land from voluntary sellers. The city says that even if the state doesn’t pay their half, Virginia Beach will set aside its $7.5 million share.
“We made a promise to Oceana and to the BRAC Commission and we need to keep it,” Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said. “Someday, there will be another BRAC Commission and we do not want the General Assembly’s actions to jeopardize the master jet base.”
On March 7, Linwood Branch, Chairman of the Virginia Beach Division of the Hampton Roads Chamber, sent Governor Bob McDonnell a letter urging him to “restore an appropriate level of funding for Naval Air Station Oceana land acquisition and to work with the leadership of the General Assembly to encourage their support.”
Branch said, “With direct employment exceeding 10,000 and indirect and induced employment exceeding 15,000; you can easily understand the concern of the business community in Virginia Beach. The Commonwealth benefits in a very significant way annually from Naval Air Station Oceana as an ‘economic engine’.”
More details of the program are at www.yesoceana.com