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City Hopes to Ensure Air Tower Financing

City officials are urging military and political leaders to find long-term funding for the air-traffic control tower at the Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center.

Mayor Ronald Bates said the tower is the fifth busiest in the military system and plays an essential role in ensuring the safety of the air space above Los Alamitos and neighboring communities. Concerned about the tower’s potential closure, he recently met with National Guard representatives in Sacramento.

“This needs to permanently be in somebody’s base budget so we don’t have to go through this fire drill every year,” Bates said.

Two Army generals have said their branch of the military can no longer afford to pay air-traffic controllers at the base and will pass the $1-million annual cost onto the California National Guard in 1999. The Guard reportedly cannot afford to assume the expense and is looking for funding.

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The situation has caused some concern at Long Beach, Fullerton and John Wayne airports because planes that use those facilities pass through air space monitored by Los Alamitos.

Flights could land at the base without a tower, National Guard officials said, but that could be hazardous because the air space is used by private and commercial planes.

Officials also are concerned that losing the tower might jeopardize the base. “I am just concerned that this might be the beginning of the end for the base,” Councilwoman Marilynn Poe said.

Though the military nationally is still downsizing to half the size it was during the 1980s, there are no plans yet to close the base.

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