Thursday, May 28, 2015
Kaneohe Neighborhood Board Hears From -- And About -- Marine Base
Marine Corps Base Hawaii got lots of attention at the May meeting of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board.
The Board reviewed a report that calculated the economic impact of the base on its neighboring communities at $1.26 billion. Base-related spending supported 17,243 military and civilian jobs.
The report also indicated that the base’s economic impact was overwhelmingly focused on Windward Oahu. For example, the report said that the base was the largest civilian employer on the Windward side and that its personnel represented “the main client base of most local businesses.”
Only 14 percent of the base’s total economic impact occurred outside of neighboring communities. Neighboring communities of the base’s three locations are Kaneohe, Kailua, Waimanalo and Aiea. The full report is available online at http://ow.ly/Nz5lN.
The Board also heard testimony about overflights of residential communities by Marine V-22 Osprey aircraft. One speaker was very vehement and described an Osprey flight pattern that was “fast, low and wobbly” over homes in the Keolu Hills. Another offered a very heartfelt comment thanking the MCBH for their part in the defense of our nation.
The overflights occurred during a training exercise that was marred by an Osprey crash at Bellows Air Force Station. The crash left two Marines dead and 20 injured. A Marine Corps representative explained that the flights involved mainland units that were not as familiar with flight protocols as pilots stationed at the Kaneohe base.
In response to questions, the Marine representative said the mainland units had received pre-flight briefings. However, the representative said that, although the Kaneohe base provided facilities for the training exercises, their conduct was the responsibility of the mainland units. The representative said the Kaneohe base could not hold any visiting unit accountable for the overflights.
The testimony and questions came during the board’s meeting on May 21. The board meets on the third Thursday of each month at Benjamin Parker Elementary School, starting at 7 p.m. The agenda always includes time for comments from the audience. In addition, Marine Corps Base Hawaii is one of the organizations that routinely sends a representative to the meetings.