Environmental study suggests Camp Ravenna could be transformed to missile defense system site

Posted at 4:28 PM, Jul 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-01 17:06:00-04

A new government report from the Missile Defense Agency suggests Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center could be a viable location for a missile defense system that has been discussed for several years.

The report, released at an open house at Ravenna High School on Thursday, indicates some wetlands would have to be moved and construction could not interfere with endangered bats on the 20-thousand acre site.

Mayor Frank Seman said Ravenna is in competition with cities in New York and Michigan for the billion-dollar defense system.

He believes landing the missile site would generate millions of dollars in the region while creating many jobs.

"Once it was up and running, it would probably employ 400 plus people," Seman said.

Two other defense bases exist in Alaska and California.

It's not clear if the Department of Defense will push forward with a third base. For now, the plan remains to figure which sites meet environmental standards in a case another missile defense system is needed, according to the mayor.

"This is a missile defense site and it would be shooting these missiles at incoming missiles. People look at it a little different than you're using it to attack, "Seman said.

The missiles weigh 25 tons a piece and each costs about $50 million.

The site has been used for training by the Ohio Army National Guard since the 1970's and is also used for troop deployment. It employs 85 people.

Ohio Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Mark E. Bartman, said Camp Ravenna is ideally positioned as a missile defense site.

"We will continue to work with our partners at the local, state and national level on this potential project in case this site is selected," Bartman said.

Opinions from residents in the town of nearly 12,000 are mixed on whether Ravenna is a good spot to store missiles.

"If this does take place, its a bulls eye. It's right here in our area," said Scott Hutchinson.

But another resident, Mindy Graeser, countered, "We have all the space out there anyway and everything so why not? It would create more jobs."

Seman said the Missile Defense Agency is expected to make a recommendation on a possible site-- from an environmental perspective-- in the fall.

More from our partners at the Akron Beacon Journal.