Community Divided Over Blackwater USA Training Camp Proposal
San Diego County holds a public meeting Thursday afternoon to launch an environmental review of a plan to build a private, military-style training camp in San Diego's East County. Residents of Potrero
San Diego County holds a public meeting Thursday afternoon to launch an environmental review of a plan to build a private, military-style training camp in San Diego's East County. Residents of Potrero, a small village 45 miles east of downtown on Highway 94, are divided over the proposal by the private military contractor, Blackwater USA. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.
Fewer than a thousand people live in rural Potrero. Gordon Hammer, a long time member of the town's planning board, says he's in favor of Blackwater's proposal.
Hammer : Potrero is going to grow and anyone who thinks it's not going to grow, they are mistaken. I see Blackwater as one of the least of the evils for the future development of Potrero.
Hammer believes the training camp would provide jobs, though he wants live-fire noise tests to be part of the environmental review.
Recently elected planning board member, Jan Hedlun, is vehemently against the whole idea.
Hedlun : They're talking about shooting ranges, a vehicular track for tactical training, urban assault buildings -- this is just not what would fit in.
Today's environmental scoping meeting is one of the very few public meetings required in the environmental review process, which will take at least 18 months.
Alison St John KPBS News.