Union Tribune

May 10, 2002

Shift to El Toro still 'possibility'

By OTTO KREISHER 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON Moving the Marine Corps Recruit Depot from
San Diego to the closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station is "still a
possibility," Navy Secretary Gordon England said yesterday.

"We're still looking at that option," England said.

England said the Navy's April 23 decision to sell most of El Toro
"does not close out" the possibility of using part of the
4,700-acre Orange County property for the Marine recruit
depot.

"The Marines have expressed a potential interest in moving their
base and we have been discussing that," the secretary told
defense writers.

"The Marines are studying the issue and a decision is likely in the
next couple weeks . . . It's still a possibility," he said.

The idea of moving the historic Marine recruit-training base
from its location next to Lindbergh Field emerged in March as a
proposal from Reps. Randy Cunningham, R-Escondido, and
Darrell Issa, R-Vista. The two congressmen said the idea had the
support of Gen. James L. Jones, the Marine Corps commandant.

The Marines initially would not confirm that. But Jones recently
sent a small team of facilities experts to San Diego as part of a
study of the recruit depot, which is affected by the airport noise
and is too small to handle all the recruit training.

That study is expected to be completed around the end of May, a
spokesman said.

A coalition of government officials and business interests from
Los Angeles and Orange counties are trying to overturn the
Orange County voters' March 5 decision against making El Toro a
commercial airport.

England could not say whether a decision to relocate the recruit
depot would be contingent on the San Diego Port Authority
buying the Marine property as an addition to Lindbergh Field.

"I don't have that kind of detail," he said, but noted that a
relocation of the depot would have "a high cost."

"There are some benefits to doing it. There also are some
disadvantages to do it, in terms of costs," he said. "It is a
consideration."