Rendell: Keep airfield open|
Gov. Rendell has written a letter of support for the Horsham board that will help decide what happens to the Willow Grove Naval Air Base Station after the military leaves. But, in return, the governor wants the Horsham Land Reuse Authority to help him keep the airfield operational after the Navy and Marines leave by 2011. "I believe what we owe it to our military personnel and the citizens of southeastern Pennsylvania to exhaust every last opportunity to keep the military installation and airfield viable," Rendell wrote in his letter. "I respectfully ask for your support in this matter and await your response." Horsham officials said they're not rushing to reply. "I think the proposal that the governor puts forth is a plan that needs to be endorsed by the feds, and either it will be or it won't be," said township Manager Michael McGee. McGee said the authority, which is scheduled to meet March 15, had not received a letter of support from the governor as it had from 17 other parties. Rendell's letter comes on the heels of his e-mail response last week to more than 300 petitioners urging the state to oppose civilian use of Willow Grove's runway. The recent flurry of correspondence comes just before today's deadline for federal agencies to request some or all of the Navy's land at Willow Grove. After receiving those requests, the Navy has until May 9 to decide which parcels will be left over. The local reuse authority will help plan the future of those parcels. In a separate letter sent last week to the Secretary of the Navy, Rendell reasserted the state's opposition to using Willow Grove's runway for civilian use. "Specifically, I oppose use of Willow Grove as a reliever airport for Philadelphia International Airport," the governor wrote.