Governor Bob McDonnell announced Monday, in a presentation to the General Assembly joint money committees, $7.5 million in FY2014 to address the encroachment and safety issues around Naval Air Station Oceana. The governor's budget amendment continues Virginia's commitment to the military and recognition of the important role naval aviation plays in Hampton Roads and across the Commonwealth. The amendments will aide in the voluntary purchase, and repurposing of homes, businesses and properties within the operational area of the navy's east coast master jet base.
"The 7.5 million in funding for the Oceana Partnership is a continuation of sound policy ensuring that the area around Naval Air Station Oceana is safe, the military training mission is enhanced and the economic and cultural benefits of the base remain in the Commonwealth for years to come," said Governor McDonnell. "The memory of the April plane crash near the installation should remind us that this partnership is essential to protecting the public's safety. Additionally, the base represents a significant source of jobs and economic activity for the region. It is critical that it remain in Virginia."
"I am pleased that the governor continues to support the important contributions of Naval Air Station Oceana," said Secretary of Veteran Affairs and Homeland Security Terrie Suit. "The proposed amendments reinforce Virginia's commitment to our military and to this installation while enhancing the safety of the area around the base as a whole. The governor's budget ensures that the critical partnership with the City of Virginia Beach and the Department of Defense continues. Virginia as a whole enjoys the benefits of Naval Air Station Oceana and the precious freedom protected by all who serve there."
"Seven years ago, we partnered with the Commonwealth and promised to do whatever it takes to save Oceana," said Mayor William D. Sessoms, Jr. "We take this promise very seriously. We are grateful to Governor McDonnell, the General Assembly and Secretary Suit for maintaining this vital partnership. It means so much to our military men and women, to the City of Virginia Beach and the nation."
Each year since 2007, the city and state have dedicated $7.5 million each - a total of $15 million annually - to buy properties around the master jet base and it's area of operation, from willing sellers. This action has significantly reduced the amount of new development incompatible with the jet base's mission, and has rolled back existing development which encroached upon the installation. The city and state began this program in response to a 2005 recommendation from the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission to relocate the Oceana jet squadrons and support commands outside of Virginia, gutting the military base.
To date, the city and state have bought 1,879 acres around Oceana and have eliminated 52 incompatible businesses and 550 homes and potential homes near the base.