Askew asks for Ahoskie’s support

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AHOSKIE – The battle to save Gates County from hosting the Navy’s Outlying Landing Field (OLF) has crossed the Chowan River.

Last week, Gates County Commissioner Wade Askew took that battle into the meeting chambers of the Ahoskie Town Council.

“The (proposed) OLF is in Gates County, but it will affect Hertford County,” Askew said of the Navy’s plans to construct a jet practice facility at one of five areas currently under consideration, including the Sand Banks region of Gates County.

Askew noted that the “touch-and-go” sessions at the practice field would be conducted six days a week. It is expected that 80 to 100 aircraft will use the facility daily, with the majority of the practice sessions occurring at night.

“This will change our lifestyle,” Askew said. “Some of our longtime residents will be losing their homes, their land, their way of life.”

Askew added that he and others strongly felt there was no need for another OLF (the Navy currently has one in use in Virginia Beach).

“The Navy has other options,” Askew told Ahoskie Council members. “Virginia Beach (residents) wants to dump their jet noise on us and keep the economic benefits (of having the jets and associated businesses in Virginia).”

Askew noted the recent OLF Scoping meeting held at Gates County High School. He said he noticed several Hertford County officials present at that function.

“We appreciate Hertford County’s support in our effort to keep the OLF out of Gates County, but we need additional support,” he said. “We would appreciate your (Ahoskie Council) support by adopting and forwarding a resolution to our state and federal officials. Winton will hear the noise if the OLF comes and Ahoskie will as well.”

At the conclusion of Askew’s presentation, Ahoskie Mayor Linda Blackburn informed him that it was board policy not to take any action following public input.

“We will direct our town manager to study this further and we may bring this issue back up at our next monthly meeting for discussion,” Blackburn said.