"There's a clear case where that has occurred," Hoyer said.
Built in 1960, Onizuka was one of the Air Force's main satellite tracking stations. But 2nd Lt. Stacy Gault, West Virginia National Guard public affairs officer, said Onizuka -- located in a congested area -- has roads running next to the facility just like Coonskin Drive.
"Because of the road being there, they had nowhere to go [to correct security concerns]," Gault said.
The 2005 BRAC commission said Onizuka should be closed, based largely on Department of Defense reports criticizing the base's lack of a security buffer. The base shut down permanently in 2010, with its functions transferred to nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base.
But while Onizuka had nowhere to expand, Hoyer said the West Virginia National Guard does. Following the 2005 BRAC report, National Guard officials bought several homes across Coonskin Drive from the National Guard facilities to create the necessary buffer zone around the base.
Closing Coonskin Drive and installing a new main gate near the entrance of the road should solve the facility's security problems, Hoyer and state officials believe.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.