Yesterday I attended the NBAF Public Hearing and spoke in favor of the project. In my opinion, the risks are few and are far outweighed by the need for stronger national and economic security in the agricultural area.
One of the fundamental localized disagreements is over the impact of jobs -- however many would come with NBAF -- and their importance to our community. Given the new data that emerged yesterday, the economic case for NBAF is incredibly strong. Among the lower paying jobs are $43,500 for administrative assistants. Given the comments of homeland security officials and veterinary experts yesterday, the security need for NBAF is also incredibly strong, and Athens and UGA have the right mix of researchers and location to serve our country.
I agree with many that the Milledge Avenue location is less than ideal -- it will certainly change the character of that cherished stretch of road forever. I do not believe it will have a notable effect on the Botanical Gardens, certainly no more than the aroma of the sewage treatment plant just down the river from the Garden on a hot summer day. All that said, sometimes we all have to give up a little bit of what we enjoy about our community for the greater good. In my opinion, this is one of those times.
At the afternoon session, those speaking in favor of the project outnumbered opponents 25-12; I would say the overall crowd was evenly divided. For whatever reason, I was the one speaker at the afternoon session who got to engage in a bit of debate with an audience member (details here and here). From what I hear, the evening session was a bit more energetic and more opposition was there. Apparently there were a few more speaking against the project than for it, but not by a large margin.