|From:||Richard Hugus <email@example.com>|
|Date:||16 Dec 1998 16:28:50|
|Subject:||Activists Told To Find Other Planet|
Cape Cod Times, December 16, 1998 Vezina lobbies to save base as training area The state National Guard leader says 'silent majority' opposes refuge plan. By ANNE BRENNAN STAFF WRITER HYANNIS - Adj. Gen. Raymond Vezina, director of the state's National Guard, asked a community group last night to become his ally in the fight to save the Guard's Upper Cape training base. He urged members of the Barnstable County Republican Club to write their legislators to demand Camp Edwards on the Massachusetts Military Reservation remain a training facility in face of mounting support for converting it to a wildlife refuge. It has been only a small group of activists that is the driving force behind the decisions made by local, state and federal legislators on the future of the base, Vezina contended. They are using environmental protection as a guise to get the military off Cape Cod, Vezina said. "I'm sick and tired of dealing with four or five activists who, frankly, ought to be on another planet," Vezina said, speaking to about 100 club members at the VFW club in Hyannis. Judy Koenig of Sandwich, who has been involved in base issues for about a decade, said last night that Vezina's comments reveal a man out of touch with the will of Cape residents. As a member of a community working group that developed a master plan for the future of the base, Koenig said the vast majority of the group voted overwhelmingly to make the top priority preserving the clean water resources on the northern portion of the base, where Camp Edwards, the National Guard training base, is located. The working group declared that only military activities that do not interfere with that priority would be allowed. Since the end of the Cold War, when cuts to the military ran deep, there has been an increased reliance on the Army Guard and Army Reserve in conflicts around the world. So training these troops is of utmost importance, Vezina said. Vezina's plea to keep Camp Edwards open comes as a proposal to convert the 15,000 acres into a wildlife refuge gains steam across the Cape. U.S. Rep. William Delahunt gave his support to the idea last summer as a way to preserve the Upper Cape's drinking water. Pollution emanating from the southern end of the base has polluted more than 60 billion gallons of the region's drinking water, forcing the closure of hundreds of municipal and private wells. Artillery and mortar training at the base was halted almost two years ago by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until a study of pollution in impact area is completed. Results of test wells drilled into the area revealed explosive contamination in samples from seven of 30 wells. Vezina contends it was dumping and demolition activities that caused the pollution, not Guard training. But he says that politicians are swayed by a few people with narrow agendas when supporting a wildlife refuge. "Politicians ... have to be in agreement with the constituency," he said. If they only hear from a few activists, and nobody else, they are going to agree with that point of view. "If more, or all, of you contacted these political officials, you could probably turn it around. The silent majority is not being heard." He also said the Guard has not been given a fair shake from the media. He attacked press coverage of the artillery impact area, saying it is neither fair nor accurate. "I marvel at the imagination of some people," he said. "You folks down here on the Cape are subjected to coverage that boggles the mind." But Koenig, who was the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce representative to the community working group, bristled at Vezina's accusations, saying there are far more than five activists who support the preservation of the Upper Cape's drinking water. And while a vocal few take the heat, many others are quietly working many hours on the issues. "This (the wildlife refuge) is a growing thing." she said. "Where the heck are these guys? Haven't they been listening? It's not five activists. It's groups from all over the Cape." She lists as examples the Barnstable County Commissioners, the Cape Cod Commission and the Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod. She said the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce is about to release a statement. "I have every reason to believe it will be in favor of the refuge to protect the water supply."
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