The Department of Defense sets up requirements for the protection of military bases, including National Guard facilities. According to Hoyer, federal officials require a buffer zone of 148 feet around government facilities, to protect against attack. That standoff distance was increased to 262 feet in 2012.
DOD Directive 2000.12 requires all military branches to provide anti-terrorism protection for their facilities, according to an internal West Virginia National Guard report drawn up to address the security issues on Coonskin Drive. DOD Instruction 2000.16 sets minimum standards for facility protection, according to the same internal National Guard report.
"The 130th Airlift Wing and [neighboring facilities] vulnerabilities do not meet minimum [federal] standards," the internal report states.
Hoyer said the security issues on Coonskin Drive became more pressing after the 2005 BRAC report came out.
Although the BRAC report does not talk directly about security concerns on Coonskin Drive, that same year, the BRAC team recommended closing Onizuka Air Force Station, in Sunnyvale, Calif. The 2005 BRAC report recommending the closure of Onizuka was based partly on the facility's lack of a security buffer.
One of the Air Force's main satellite tracking stations, Onizuka was located in an urban area surrounded by roads and other buildings.
Like the 130th Airlift Wing and the National Guard facilities on Coonskin Drive, Onizuka did not meet federal minimum standards for force-protection standoff distances. The station closed for good in 2010.
Unlike the West Virginia National Guard facilities on Coonskin Drive, Hoyer said, Onizuka didn't have anywhere to create a buffer zone. The Coonskin facilities do.
"We need to close Coonskin Drive," Hoyer said.
State and local officials want to close Coonskin Drive to the public near the existing entrance to the 130th Airlift Wing and build a security gate. An alternate entrance to Coonskin Park would be built on the northern end of the park, with access from a new bridge to be built across the Elk River in the Mink Shoals area.
Hoyer said the plan, with an estimated cost of about $9 million, would create the necessary buffer zone to protect the National Guard's buildings on Coonskin Drive.
He said the only other way to meet federal requirements would be to tear down the National Guard facilities and move them farther away from Coonskin Drive. That approach would cost far more than a bridge and a security gate, and it assumes there's land available that far away from the road.
"You either close off the road," Hoyer said, "or you tear down the buildings."
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.