Ravenna Site Studied for Possible Missile System

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PORTAGE COUNTY, OH -- The former Ravenna arsenal is one of five sites that are being studied as a possible location for a ground-based missile defense system.

The Defense Department confirmed the report, which a spokesman described to FOX 8 News on Friday as nothing more than a "suitability study."

The 21,000 acre property was used through World War II and the Vietnam War to make bombs. For more than a decade, it has been just a training facility for the Ohio National Guard.

In a release, the Defense Department says two existing sites, including one at Vanderberg Air Force Base in California, currently protect the United States against limited intercontinental ballistic missile attacks.

Rick Lehner of the Missile Defense Administration tells FOX 8 News that the California site is the only one currently from which they launch what are called 'ground based interceptors,' or GBIs.

The same missiles could eventually be located in Ravenna, although Lehner says there are currently no plans to build anything anywhere.

Just the chance that there might be missiles on the former arsenal property is something welcomed by many who live nearby.

"I used to train out there sometimes, so it doesn't bother me. I say if it's some way to protect the U.S., set them up. They aren't using them to attack; they are using them to defend us," said Barry Marks of Ravenna.

"I think absolutely. I mean, I think they would be perfectly safe and I'd be much happier with what it brings to our economy," said Lori Foi of Ravenna.

Some others believe having the site near Ravenna would make them feel more vulnerable.

"Anything that would try to protect us would try to be destroyed also, is what I believe," said Mary Keesey of Rootstown.

The government says completing the mandatory siting study and the associated follow-on environmental impact statement would decrease the time necessary to build a site if a decision is ever made to do so.

The environmental impact study by itself, however, could take between 18 and 24 months to complete, according to the Defense Department.

A small Defense Department team will visit each candidate site first.

The other candidate sites include Fort Drum in New York, Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Vermont, Naval Air Station Portsmouth SERE Training area in Maine and Fort Cluster Training Center in Michigan.

Congressman Tim Ryan is among those who has added his endorsement to the Ravenna site, saying "this would be a great opportunity for Camp Ravenna and the State of Ohio to benefit from Department of Defense investments, leading to increased employment in both the construction phase and sustaining operational employment."

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