Council Responds to “Save the Guard!” Petition

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Wednesday December 05, 2012

At the November 5 City Council meeting, members received and discussed a petition presented by the GBIC in support of basing the F-35 at the Vermont Air National Guard. The petition contained 10,000 signatures and asked the Council to reverse their position.

“When they ask us to retract everything we said, that’s not logical to me” Councilor Helen Riehle said.

Councilor Pam Mackenzie said, “It’s a significant number of signatures from around the state and I think it deserves more than just a filing. It’s not just a list of people, they have done a significant amount of research around the statement (DEIS).” 

Chair, Rosanne Greco pointed out that when the council had made their decision on the F-35 it was based upon information in the environmental impact statement, not on public outcry one way or another. Greco added that the 9 negative impacts that the Council initially cited are still there and that there is no doubt that the 1100 page DEIS document says this will be detrimental to the people, especially those living near the airport. 

In June, the Council had received a petition with the same title: “Save the Guard!” and 1,616 signatures. At the time, Greco combed through each and discovered that most were not signatures, but printed names. Many did not include street addresses. Some did not include city and/or state names, and some had 2-4 persons with the same address. Many were illegible. Of the 1,616 names, approximately 191 were from South Burlington.  Of these, only a handful were from the areas around the airport. Most were from Colchester, Vermont.  There were about 50 names from people in other states including, New York (20+), New Hampshire (10+), Maine (5+), Rhode Island (1+), Pennsylvania (1+), Florida (4+), Minnesota (4+), Iowa (6+), and California (2+), There were 5 people who listed their address as “BTV”

While the Council did not go through all 10,000 signatures this time, most agreed that a response was warranted. Therefore, on November 23, the Council met to draft a letter addressing each point made by the GBIC. The letter speaks to points on noise, protection of children, operations, air pollution, safety, biological resources, socioeconomics, and ground traffic with specific page citations in the DEIS to support their position.

The Council’s letter concludes by saying that, “Some have said that the South Burlington Council’s position is wrong. We do not believe that it is ever wrong to speak up for our residents and our community. The majority of the people who would be directly affected by the basing of the F35A are moderate to low-income (the average Vermonter). These people are at a distinct disadvantage compared to those who support the F35A. The F35A proponents have far more financial and organizational resources than individuals or communities. If we do not speak up for the average resident, who will? This is what we have done and what we will continue to do even if it means going up against industrial, military, and political interests…we believe the best way to “Save the Guard” is to insure their operations are compatible with the surrounding community and region.”

The letter was signed by Sandy Dooley, Rosanne Greco, Paul Engels, and Helen Riehle and sent out on November 26th.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent