Buffer MacDill from conflicts
Hillsborough Rep. Dana Young wants to buffer MacDill Air Force Base from additional development. It is a smart move for the base and the economy. Construction, particularly residential, next to a base can create conflicts and complications for military operations. It also signals to the Pentagon that the base is not a community priority. That’s not a message Tampa wants to send, particularly since MacDill has an annual economic impact of $2.87 billion. Add the military retiree population within 50 miles of the base, and that impact increases to $4.98 billion.Young is concerned that the Florida Rock and Tank Lines property adjacent to the base on Dale Mabry Highway could be targeted for a residential development project — putting people not far from MacDill’s runways. Such a project surely would not be viewed kindly by the military. The U.S. Department of Defense terms any incompatible use of land, air, water and other resources near a base as encroachment. From experience, Pentagon officials know encroachment can compromise operations, resulting in more complaints about flights and other base noises, lighting that disrupts nighttime training, water-use issues and an array of other problems. Such matters can be a critical concern when officials decide on base closings. We shouldn’t be taking any chances with MacDill, which, after all, was here long before most of the nearby dwellings were built. The Legislature, to its credit, this year is considering a measure that would enable the state to buy nonconservation land to buffer bases, a sensible safeguard. Young has been a strong advocate for MacDill and was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Defense Support Task Force, which the Legislature established to work on behalf of its 20 major military installations. She is wise to want to be proactive and undoubtedly will get a lot of bipartisan support from community leaders, who understand MacDill’s value. MacDill is too vital to the nation’s defense and the region’s economy to be subjected to unnecessary conflicts and headaches.