We’re not completely convinced that two-hour meetings involving a bunch of men wearing ties is ever a good idea.
It seems many such meetings are often all talk with little action. Committees are formed and action plans are made, and in the end, the only result is a report with too many words on too many pages.
We don’t need to look any further the Military Growth Task Force to find an example. It formed in response to an expected influx of new Marines to bases at Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point and New River.
The impact was expected to be widespread — roads, schools, housing, medical facilities — and action was said to be needed on the part of city and county governments to prepare.
An 860-page report was created, but before any of the recommendations could really get put into action, the Pentagon announced a Marine Corps drawdown that basically negated any long-term impacts from new Marines and their families.
Tuesday’s meeting that involved city and county officials, members of the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow, and other business and community leaders at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center was not such a waste of time as that.
The group heard from a Washington lobbyist hired by the county to help protect Cherry Point and Fleet Readiness Center East from possible defense cuts — or worse, possible closure.
The lobbyist didn’t necessarily offer us any new information during the meeting. After all, base encroachment has long been considered a major issue and city, county and state officials have set about trying to protect the base’s borders.
We knew already that Cherry Point and its bombing ranges are not only important to the Marine Corps but also to the Navy and Air Force as well.
A suggestion about getting a major project that the Department of Defense can’t live without at Cherry Point is a little bit of a no-brainer as far as base protection is concerned, but finding the project amid the ever-tightening defense budget is another matter.
Still, we thought the meeting was productive, if nothing else to get all the parties that have concerns about the base together under one roof. Plus, we say it’s always important for residents whose tax money paid for the lobbyist to get information so they can determine if the money was well spent.
We have no doubt that this year and the next several will be important to the future of Cherry Point, and thus the economic future for all of us. If nothing else, the meeting showed residents that area officials are concerned. We hope that these leaders continue to work together to develop the strategies that can protect Cherry Point and the region’s future.