A site in Camden County being evaluated for its potential as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot training field is low-lying and is plagued by poor drainage. That was the message last week at a meeting between Camden, state and Navy officials in Raleigh.
County Manager Randell Woodruff, County Commission Chairman Jeff Jennings, and Camden County attorney John Morrison made the trip to Raleigh, where they told members of the Navy and the governor's OLF task force about the problems associated with the Hale's Lake site.
"I think we were well received well," Woodruff said Monday at a county commissioners' meeting.
At a Camden Board of Commissioners' meeting Monday, Woodruff, Jennings and Morrison spoke about their trip to Raleigh and provided the other commissioners with an update. The Hale's Lake site includes thousands of acres of farmland. Building a Navy outlying landing field there would only worsen the existing drainage problem for area farms and homes, Woodruff said. He relayed that message to the task force, as well as to Navy officials, at last week's meeting in Raleigh.
The site, which is one of two sites proposed in Camden County, is only 10 feet above sea level, Woodruff said Monday during a break in the meeting.
"The highest elevation in Camden is 19 feet, and that is in the Dismal Swamp," Woodruff said. "When you have summer rains of five or six inches at a time, you could have heavy flooding."
Jennings, whose family owns farmland in the Hale's Lake area, said the Navy needs to think twice about picking that land for its proposed OLF.
"The water just doesn't get away when you get those big rains," he said. "There are only two (drainage) outlets that can only handle so much water. When you get four- and five-inch rains like we had last year, it has a flooding tendency on the whole place up there."
The OLF would be used by Navy F/A 18 fighter pilots based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., to practice touch-and-go maneuvers. The Navy is evaluating two sites in Camden as a potential location for the OLF. The Hale's Lake area is one site and the other is in the northeastern corner of Camden near the Currituck border. Both sites are among 22 in North Carolina and Virginia that have been proposed for the Navy's OLF. The Navy is expected to announce in later this month which of those sites, if any, deserve more study.