Many think the idea of building a new machine gun range at Camp Edwards is a bad idea. We’re among them. But it’s hardly the worst idea that has been put on the table.
There was the nuclear park that was proposed in the late 1950s. A lot of Cape Codders liked the idea, particularly because of the economic boon a big federal facility would bring. Few in those days understood the dangers of radiation and the potential for catastrophe. Scientists from Woods Hole were instrumental in explaining what such a facility could mean for the Cape.
Some 10 years later Cape Codders narrowly escaped another big idea. This time it was to turn Otis into a terminal for transatlantic supersonic transport.
Crocker Snow of the state Aeronautics Commission was a booster of the idea. In an interview with the Boston Globe in 1970, he envisioned Otis as hub fed by connecting flights from cities across the country.
New England would lose millions of dollars worth of business and thousands of jobs if development of the SST were dropped, he said.
And Otis was prime real estate.
“Otis costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and sits there doing nothing,” he said. “It has a great potential as a future investment for the people of the state.”
He brushed aside the thought that some on the Cape might not like supersonic jets taking off and landing here. The SST, he said, would be so isolated on the 20,000-acre military reserve that people would not know it was there.
We doubt Mr. Snow had ever seen or heard a SST lifting off. We witnessed it from a hotel room near Kennedy International Airport. It was a memorable morning. The aircraft started down the runway with a rumble that grew into a such a roar that the hotel shook and the windows rattled.
Otis might be 20,000 acres, but no one on the Upper Cape would have escaped the noise of SSTs taking off.
“We can’t please all of them,” Mr. Snow told the Globe. “It is possible that there would be some annoyance to Cape Codders, but it would be less than they think.”
Thankfully, the SST never came do be. And it’s our hope that the proposed machine gun range plan will follow suit and be filed away as just another bad idea for the base.