ROSAMOND — As the closest community to the main gate of Edwards Air Force Base, Rosamond has a special relationship with the base.
While the community has long shown its support for the base and its mission, the throngs of personnel which pass through each morning and evening — often at a high rate of speed down the main thoroughfare of Rosamond Boulevard — can be a problem for residents.
The speed limit in Rosamond is 45 mph, which increases to 65 mph at the base boundary. While drivers are often quite cautious about sticking to the limit on base, they frequently disregard the speed limit in town. The base typically has a larger enforcement presence within its boundaries with its own security forces and infractions may lead to drivers losing the ability to drive on base.
“We have a problem policing our own (as they leave the base),” said David Smith, installation support director for Edwards AFB. “We’re doing an aggressive campaign to get the word out that this is entirely unsatisfactory.”
Smith spoke to the Rosamond Municipal Advisory Council on Thursday about the relationship between the base and its neighboring community and ongoing efforts to strengthen those ties.
“We want to be great neighbors and we want to encourage our base population to understand that,” Smith said.
The area’s largest employer, the base hosts just under 12,000 people daily, with about half of those civilian employees. Active duty military personnel account for a little more than 2,000 people.
Smith said the community can also help in these matters by pushing for installation of lighted crosswalks at points on Rosamond Boulevard where jaywalk or otherwise unsafe crossings occur. The Council has been pushing for pedestrian-activated crosswalks at busy areas for crossings, and is making progress with Kern County officials to get those approved and installed, Chairman Bill Parkman said.
The base has offerings that may benefit the Rosamond community, as well. One is the Air Force Flight Test Museum, a science education center detailing the rich aerospace history of the area that is now under construction just outside the West Gate on Rosamond Boulevard.
“The new museum is going to be an absolute destination STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) museum,” Smith said. “People are going to fly into the Antelope Valley to go to the museum. That is probably going to impact revenues at businesses in this community.”
Another educational opportunity has opened on base this year in STARBASE, a Department of Defense program designed to bring interactive education in science, technology, engineering and math to fifth-graders.
The program is offered free of charge to schools, who must only provide transportation for students, Smith said.
Base officials are also working to see if they may be able to receive Department of Defense funding for an alternative route through Rosamond that will not be blocked by the railroad crossing as on Rosamond Boulevard. Because Edwards does not have major medical care available on site, it must transport emergency cases by ambulance, which may be stopped for an uncertain amount of time by a train, Smith said.
This alternate route would also benefit Rosamond residents who have long had issues with the complications of getting from one side of the community to the other across the tracks.
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