The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

June 20, 2013

Enid community can breathe easier with lawmakers voting against another round of BRAC

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Base closings.

Those two words strike fear into the hearts of residents of communities near military bases.

We’ve seen that first-hand a few times in Enid during previous Base Realignment and Closure rounds as Vance Air Force Base was scrutinized.

Pentagon officials have wanted another round of base closings, to help deal with budget cuts.

They say the military has too many installations and needs to close bases so money can be used elsewhere. They had been seeking money and permission to have another BRAC round in 2015.

Congress, though, had other ideas.

Lawmakers have voted to not allow a round of base closings at this time. That pretty much seals the save deal for the time being. Some lawmakers argued the upfront costs of closing bases were too much to justify. Others said the last round of base closings in 2005 cost $13 billion more than estimated.

Another reason, which lawmakers probably wouldn’t want to voice publicly, but which always factors into the equation is simple: Lawmakers with bases in their districts are going to fight hard to keep them open. Not one of them wants to go through the process and the uncertainty that comes with it, especially when many of them will be up for re-election in 2014.

The BRAC process is supposed to be as free of politics as possible, but everyone knows that’s not even remotely possible.

So, while we all can breathe a sigh of relief, we still need to be aware. Now, it’s up to the Enid community to continue what its done in the past.

We’ve got to make smart decisions on issues that impact the community, Vance and our schools. We’ve been good about that in the past, and we don’t expect anything to change now.

The city is in the process of expanding the runway at Enid Woodring Regional Airport. That, in part, will impact Vance, which is going to have to close a runway for work.

Having Woodring’s runway extended will allow Vance personnel to continue their training while the Air Force runway is unavailable.

The city is working on improving parks, expanding the trail system and attracting new retail businesses, while also expanding the manufacturing base. All of those things count.

Enid Public Schools is working to finish renovations to schools approved through a $99 million bond issue.

Enid and Vance are sitting in a good position. It’s up to all of us to continue to work to keep us there.