By Anne Krueger / UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER / April 22, 2008
Blackwater Worldwide is planning to open an indoor training facility in Otay Mesa after abandoning a controversial proposal to build a training center for law enforcement and the military on an East County chicken ranch.
Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, confirmed the facility will operate out of a 61,600-square-foot building on Siempre Viva Road, just south of Brown Field. Further details about the company’s plans are expected later.
Kelly Broughton, director of the city of San Diego’s development services department, said Blackwater applied for a permit in February to make improvements to the building. The permit was approved March 19.
Broughton said the building was already permitted for use as a vocational trade school, and Blackwater’s training activities would fall within that category.
On March 7, Blackwater dropped its plans to build a training facility for law enforcement and the military on an 824-acre site in the East County community of Potrero. The proposal brought intense criticism from opponents who said the facility would bring noise and traffic to the rural community, and from those who objected to the role of Blackwater’s security guards in Iraq. Blackwater abandoned the East County site because gunfire tests there showed the noise exceeded county standards.
Opponents said they were opposed to Blackwater opening any new facility. “We don’t need to go any further for training for violence in this country,” said Jeanette Hartman, chair of the Sierra Club’s land use committee. “We need more training for peace. I’ll be happy when they open a peace center.”
Anne Krueger: (619) 593-4962; firstname.lastname@example.org