Burlington Free Press letters 8/27/12

Letters: Basing jets goes against community’s interests

Leahy should nix F-35

Dear Sen. Leahy:

I am sure you fly into South Burlington often. Have you not seen all the houses on your way that are boarded up with their unkempt lawns and broken windows? What do you suppose happened to the occupants of those homes? What has happened to the real estate value of the surrounding homes? Sen. Leahy, that was done for the expansion of commercial aviation in Burlington. What do you suppose will happen when the Air Force buys up thousands of homes in South Burlington, Winooski, Williston and Colchester to bring in the F-35?

How many middle and low-income people are going to be displaced? Where are they going to go?

You are our senior senator, senior on the Appropriations Committee, and you are on the Military Appropriation Subcommittee. The residents of this area ask you to reconsider the suggestion of the Vermont Air Guard, which has convinced the Air Force that the most urban area of Vermont with schools, colleges and our biggest medical center right in the vicinity of the flight pattern, is the best place in the U.S. to station the F-35.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. The proponents suggest to save the hearing of our kids, and the rest of us, we should have our windows closed then the noise would not be so damaging. Be a hero; add a sentence in the appropriation bill for the Air Force that “the budget would not be used for the maintenance and repair of the F-35 in Burlington, Vt.”

SHOHREH B. ECKHARDT

South Burlington

Guard should show some courtesy

At 5:45 a.m. one morning, I was awakened by a fleet of F-16s departing Burlington International Airport with the usual racket. The same thing happened the day before. OK, my bad, I had the windows open both days.

I’ve been watching the F-35 debate as a South Burlington resident living some distance from the airport (not in the flight paths), and this unpleasant reminder of the noise and, I should say, apparent lack of consideration for thousands of sleeping residents rouses me to oppose basing the F-35s here.

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If the Air Guard is concerned about the community, why the heck can’t they wait until 7 a.m. instead of waking the dead at the crack of dawn? I’d have thought, in the middle of this debate, that self-interest alone would dictate a little courtesy, unless the powers that be just assume they can have have their way with the surrounding towns.

GLENN MOODY

South Burlington

Is F-35 worth $1 trillion price tag?

If Congress forces the Department of Defense (DoD) to cut up to $57 billion from next year’s budget and $500 billion over the next 10 years, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said troops, retirees and their families would feel the effects in personnel-related areas.

The DoD already plans to raise health care premiums for veterans by as much as 340 percent and could cut as many as 100,000 troops from active duty in 2013, leading many more to the unemployment line. Currently, nearly 30 percent of young veterans are unemployed, veterans are twice as likely to carry high credit card debt, and account for an astounding one-fifth of all suicides in the U.S.

Instead of shortchanging U.S. troops and veterans to cut the deficit, wouldn’t it be better to cut out-of-control defense programs? The F-35, for instance, has overrun its budget by 75 percent and is projected to cost an eye-popping $1 trillion. The program has been fraught with problems, including ill-informed plans to base the new aircraft in the most densely populated area of Vermont, where ear-shattering engine noise will disrupt, and potentially destroy, the lives of over 6,000 residents, many of whom are of low or moderate incomes.

This is the cost of the F-35: veteran health care, military personnel jobs and benefits, destruction of residential communities. Is a trillion-dollar weapon system worth this cost?

ROSANNE M. GRECO

South Burlington

Noise important, but only one issue

It is not surprising that the Vermont congressional delegation supported the siting of the F-35s at the Burlington airport. After all, it was politically expedient.

What is surprising is the apparent lack of concern for the hundreds of South Burlington families who have already been, or soon will be, ejected from homes they have owned for years. Nor has it been acknowledged that hundreds more will find the values of their homes decreased and future saleability affected resulting in a potential decrease in city property tax collections. The environmental and societal qualities of the neighborhoods already impacted have diminished and will never be restored.

Emphasis on the noise issue is important, but a small part of the problems created by siting the F-35s in South Burlington.

ROBERT SINCLAIR

South Burlington