I have to respectfully disagree with Sunday's Letter From the Publisher ("Go figure: Hearing booms from an Army base"–Page A6). Your letter trivialized the noise from Fort Riley and its effects upon many of us who live in Manhattan.
Firstly, the sound of K-State's marching band and the intensity of Fort Riley's heavy artillery booms are not the same. The marching band plays music. When the fort booms, it sounds like war. Explosions are not the same as "The Wabash Cannonball."
Also, K-State does notify people when and where the band is going to play. Fort Riley does not notify when it is going to boom, except for a vague description on its website. As a taxpayer who ultimately foots the bill for Fort Riley, I don't think it's too much to know when the booms are going to happen, and their intensity. Then we neighbors can anticipate the noise, and plan accordingly.
Contrary to your claim, not everyone who lives in Manhattan, Riley and Ogden has gotten used to the booms. While it's great that you were able to rebuild your fallen beer can pyramid, other people get frightened by unexpected invasions of sound. Some feel their pulse race, start to panic, or lose their concentration. The unexpected noise triggers a panic inside them. They can't just laugh it off.
Your column claims that no one is going to "back out of the deal" because of the noise. I wouldn't be so sure. It's been my experience that the booms have been a factor for some people to think twice before relocating to Manhattan. Also, noise is a real concern for many people when considering purchasing or renting a home. So, yes, having full disclosure about the fort's noise is important, not trivial.
Five years ago, the fort was more of a low-artillery fort. Now it seems to be focusing on heavy artillery. Why did this change take place? What is the long-term plan? How does Fort Riley's plan mesh with K-State and NBAF's plans? The greater community? The rural areas?
The issue is transparency and good neighborly relations. As taxpayers who support the troops via the federal budget, we have a right to engage in a conversation. We should know when the fort is going to boom, and the intensity and the impacts of the booms.
Fort Riley should know about Manhattan's concerns. We need to understand each other's perspectives and priorities. As neighbors, we also have a responsibility to engage in a dialogue about how to live together, especially when there are different (sometimes conflicting) needs.
This is not unpatriotic. This is not trivial. This is about democracy -- discussing an issue, looking at multiple perspectives and finding a solution that benefits everyone.
3404 Lombard Drive