Thursday, October 22, 2015

City leaders carry message of support for Travis Air Force Base to Washington D.C.

By Melissa Murphy, The Reporter, Vacaville

Posted: 10/21/15, 10:23 PM PDT | Updated: 7 hrs ago

A trip to Washington D.C. by local leaders this week was all about Travis Air Force Base.

“We’re here to show our support for the base as part of our community,” said Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine. “We want to maintain that relationship.”

Augustine was joined by City Councilwoman Dilenna Harris, who went representing the Travis Regional Armed Force Committee, Solano Economic Development Corporation President Sandy Person, Fairfield Mayor Harry Price and Fairfield City Manager David White.

Augustine said the group is there to show the leaders in the Senate and Congress that the entire county supports Travis.

“We want to show that we work together to provide assistance to the base and that the base supports the community,” he said.

Also, they were there to meet with leaders and their staff to discuss their ideas for the future at the base and to voice some concerns.

He explained that they met with the staff of Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, Congressmen Mike Thompson, D-Solano, and John Garamendi, D-Solano, as well as Gov. Jerry Brown’s Washington D.C. staff.

With a goal of helping the base be more efficient, the Mayor said that building one civil engineering complex would pull several offices together that are scattered throughout the base. Additionally, moving the passenger terminal near the cargo terminal would be helpful.

We want to see changes that will allow for more opportunities that will help the administration and the mission of Travis, Augustine said.

“We want to make sure that Travis Air Force Base not only stays open, but adds missions,” he said.

He added that there are certain things that are of concern and that includes the lack of money and authorization for new projects as well as continued threats of sequestration.

Meanwhile, Augustine said leaders are focusing on the KC-46 aircraft scheduled to replace the KC-10, both are refueling jets.

The mayor emphasized that Travis wants to be considered for the next procurement, but at the same time make room available at the base. The replacements don’t necessarily mean that they’ll be at the current bases of the KC-10. If the jets aren’t replaced then it’s important that the remaining KC-10s continue to receive financial support for maintenance at the base.

Also, the group of leaders wants to make sure that nothing stands in its way of conducting its mission, not wind turbines, not solar developments, not housing developments, nor bird strikes.

Solano County has a moratorium on the new development of wind and solar projects until an Airforce Land Use Compatibility Plan is in place.

“Moratoriums run out, we want something more permanent,” Augustine said.

While the schedule for the short trip — the group left Tuesday night and will return this evening — has been busy he said the government leaders on the East Coast have been very receptive and supportive.

Harris said taking the trip is more beneficial than just talking over the phone from Vacaville.

“There is strength in numbers,” she said. “It’s been a very productive trip.”

“Coming here shows them that we’re working together and that we’re committed and making the sacrifice for the trip,” Harris continued. “It’s always easier to sit down across the table with the staffers, that way they can see the genuine passion and commitment. It does make a difference when you’re face to face.”

Augustine agreed and added that while they were there to share a message of support of Travis, they also gained a lot of information.

“We want to protect the base,” he said. “It adds to the economy of our entire county.”