Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Locals smile on military, survey shows

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 12:42 PM

click to enlarge Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station
The results are in and they're not surprising: Colorado Springs loves the military.

That's the upshot of a survey conducted by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments to "gauge community-military partnerships." The survey also aimed to identify areas where things are working well and issues that need improvement.

The military's five bases here — Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base and the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station — are said to employ about 60,000 people and bring nearly $6 billion to the local economy.

The survey, taken by 700 people, according to a release from PPACG, is part of the Joint Land Use Study to examine "land-use issues related to military installations in close proximity to counties, cities, and towns."

Unfortunately, the survey closed on June 14 — before we found out that Peterson Air Force Base was contaminating groundwater supplies in the Fountain and Widefield/Security areas that might take a generation of more to clean up. And the pollution, using firefighting foam spewed during practice, has been going on for decades.

We asked PPACG about that and got a message from Rachel Beck, PPACG's policy and communications manager, who said, in part:
The reason no one mentioned the Peterson water issue is that we closed our survey June 14, and media coverage of the water quality issues didn’t happen until July. Neither the JLUS manager nor our air and water quality manager have received the report, but once we do, we will review it to determine if it is relevant to the scope of the Joint Land Use Study. I know you wrote about this issue - do you have a copy you could share?
From the news release about the study:
Several common themes emerged:
• A majority of respondents think the community and military installations are working together well.
• Noise and/or vibration, and use of airspace were the top two issues respondents identified, though 67 percent and 86 percent, respectively, did not find these to be a problem.
• Respondents said development of alternative energy on installations is a positive for the community.
• 69 percent of respondents said that when they moved into their homes, they knew a military installation was a neighbor and there could be land-use impacts.
• Results validated a number of issues JLUS staff had heard about from community groups, individual citizens, and military partners, such as stormwater runoff from new development and noise from various training activities.
• Survey respondents also identified a new issue, keeping the New Santa Fe Trail open where it crosses Air Force Academy property.
As a result of this community input, JLUS staff has formed two additional working groups. Visit the PPACG website [ppacg.org] to review the full survey results.

About the Joint Land Use Study
The Colorado Springs Regional Joint Land-Use Study will promote long-term land use compatibility between local military installations and surrounding communities through the promotion of comprehensive community planning, particularly in regards to specific issues identified by the installations, local government staff and officials, and the community.

The study includes:

• A detailed land use assessment for areas surrounding the installations affecting El Paso, Pueblo, Teller, and Fremont counties
• An inventory of compatibility challenges within the study area
• An assessment of regional growth trends around the installations
• Specific recommendations to promote compatible land use 

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