Westfield gets developed, we get open space

An Editorial in The Providence Journal this morning has the right slant on Otis;

The Providence Journal online"No one can accuse the Base Closure and Realignment Commission of being a rubber stamp for the Pentagon. In New England, at least, the BRAC rejected some of the Defense Department's proposed base closings, and so saved a major military presence in this part of the country.

Dollars and cents aside, this is probably a good thing. The Pentagon's proposed closings would have so concentrated defense work in "red states" -- states that had voted for George W. Bush -- that the Northeast's commitment to the national military mission might have been sorely undermined, and disruptive political bitterness aroused. This might not have been intentional, but the effect could have been divisive.

The largest New England facilities saved by the BRAC were the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, in Maine, and the Naval Submarine Base New London, in Connecticut -- each with thousands of jobs. Then, on its last day of deliberations, the BRAC unexpectedly reversed the Defense Department's proposed expansion of Hanscom Air Force Base, outside Boston, and voted to close Otis Air National Guard Base, on Cape Cod, with plans to send its fighter jets to Barnes Air National Guard Base, in Greater Springfield.

The last move left political leaders astonished. Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy called himself and others "baffled." "[I]t defies logic, it defies intuition, it defies understanding."

Militarily speaking, that may be so. Certainly, the closing of Otis must defy understanding by the more than 500 workers whose jobs will be moved to the Springfield area.

But from the commonwealth's strictly selfish view, the move might serve the long-term best interests of both Greater Springfield and Cape Cod. For whereas the Springfield area lags behind eastern Massachusetts in economic development, overdeveloped Cape Cod's greatest lack is open land.

Otis will apparently continue to serve the Coast Guard, which is part of the new Department of Homeland Security. But if the major Otis operations close, there is, with proper planning, a tremendous opportunity to set aside the huge tract formerly known as the Shawme State Forest for thoughtful environmental, residential and business uses.

Our political leaders need to recover from their bafflement and get to work planning for Otis's long-term future."

See the base close-up and personalAnd Jack Coleman said it here first 

The above is one more example of this great newspaper's habit of getting ahead of the curve every time. It should be recalled, however, that cctoday's Jack Coleman had it right over a month before the rest of the world. See his April 15 story "Otis on notice" here.

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