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Future construction at Berclair airfield faces tough crowd

By JR Ortega
Nov. 8, 2011 at 5:08 a.m.

Capt. Dave Edgecomb, with the U.S. Navy, of Corpus Christi, talks to a crowd interested in learning more about what will happen to the Goliad Airfield. The U.S. Navy held an open house to answer questions Tuesday afternoon at the Berclair Mansion.

BERCLAIR - Jim Turner stuck his finger in an incriminatory manner at one of five 3-by-5-foot detailed blueprints sitting under the shade of the Berclair Mansion.

"Look, right there," he said getting the attention of his friend, Dave Dixon. The two own a ranch by the former Goliad County Airpark, which will soon begin the transformation into an airfield for the U.S. Navy.

Members of the U.S. Navy from Corpus Christi met with concerned area residents to talk about the transformation, but residents feel even more in the dark than ever because questions regarding pending litigation were not answered.

Goliad County filed suit against the U.S. Navy's condemnation suit, a measure to claim the airfield by eminent domain.

About 30 people stood around with arms crossed listening to Capt. Dave Edgecomb talk about some of the construction facts. The discussion lasted about five minutes.

"Construction will begin Nov. 15," he said to a hushed crowd. "There will be the demolition of some structures on the airfield. Again, to do our mission."

The project is expected to be completed by May 26. It will be used by the Navy to practice touch-and-go flight training on a new T-6 aircraft.

Bryan Miles with The Ross Group, is the project manager, and explained that the runways would be redone with new asphalt and runway lighting.

Also, there will be a new fire station and living quarters for people working at the airfield.

"We still haven't gotten to the bone of it," Turner said with Dixon by his side.

Dixon pressed a thick spiral notebook against his chest, looking peeved.

The two drove in from Rockport.

"Will they be working nights? What about weekends," Dixon asked.

Those questions were left unanswered because they could hamper the litigation between Goliad County and the U.S. Navy.

However, a man with the Navy walked around with a fistful of tiny papers, ready to take down questions so they could be answered in the future.

The entire public meeting was rather upsetting, said Serena Edwards, chair of the Goliad Airpark Coalition, a group of people opposed to the Navy taking over the airpark.

"This has been going on for two years, and they can't even answer any questions," Edwards said.

Edwards is considering moving from Berclair once construction is complete in May, she said.

She lives at the end of one of the runways and is worried about noise levels, for one thing.

Still, the idea of moving is upsetting because much of her retirement money has been put into the small community that sits along U.S. Highway 59 between Goliad and Beeville.

"We have no say," she said.



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