NAS Meridian planes constantly take off and land at Joe Williams Naval Outlying Field, and today more than a dozen surrounding residents voiced their concerns.
“The main concerns are basically like the noise pollution, as low as they fly and the hours that they fly in. Also, the air pollution,” said Velina Vasquez, a Kemper County resident.
A meeting was held in Lauderdale and Kemper Counties to discuss the implementation of the Joint Land Use Study. The study is designed to explore how NAS Meridian and the community can work together to promote economic growth, while protecting public health, safety, and sustaining the navy base.
“There are things that the navy does in their mission that have affects and influences on the community. We’re trying to ascertain what those are and make sure the public is aware of it. There are things that the public has the potential to do that might impact the operations,” said Mike Harpla, the project manager of the study.
Residents were asked to rate the importance of noise, safety, and flight obstructions. Many expressed their skepticism about the study.
“They talked about the safety of the community. With everything with ISIS and everything going on right now, there’s no telling, no guarantee that the government can even say that we would be safe,” said Vasquez.
Even though the study was met with some resistance, Harpla said the meeting was a start towards progress.
“We’re going to start taking the identified areas of concern and start doing the analysis. When we’re finished with that, we’re going to be coming back to the public again and tell them here’s what we found out. Then we’re going to ask them for their input on what they think from their perspective.”
To stay up-to-date on the NAS Meridian Joint Land Use Study, visit www.meridianjlus.com.