News Article - March 5, 2009

by KYW's David Madden

  Elected officials in Montgomery County, Pa. are banding together to ensure that when the Willow Grove Naval Air Station transfers to state control in a couple of years, it remains a military facility and not become a commercial airport. Legislation to restrict the use of the facility never made it through the last session of the Pennsylvania legislature. But state House and Senate versions are being reintroduced to block any use of the base by entities not somehow connected with homeland security.

   State senator Stewart Greenleaf (at lectern in photo) knows there’s been some talk of using Willow Grove as a backup to Philadelphia International Airport. But he says he does not want the noise and traffic hassles of that airport to come to Montgomery County: "That may sound selfish, but let’s look at it. There’s other places to find airports, not in the middle of a residential area with very dense houses all over the place. And you turn it into a Philadelphia International Airport? No." He says that military air traffic, like that which currently uses the facility, is fine. State rep Rick Taylor agrees:

   "People moved next to Philadelphia International knowing they’ve got an airport. We moved here next to this airport, knowing it was for our national defense. We can’t change it to become commercial or cargo." Still, proponents of the limitations admit they’ll have a hard time selling the concept to their colleagues, state military officials, and Governor Rendell.

Source - KYW