Support our mission

VICENZA, Italy — The final hurdle in the approval process has been cleared for the Dal Molin construction project, the Italian government’s representative for the project said Friday.

But not long after the news conference, the city’s mayor appeared to set himself up as another barrier, of sorts.

At a meeting at the provincial administration building, Mayor Achille Variati said the airfield site is the worst place he could think of in Vicenza as the new location for the 173rd Airborne Combat Team’s barracks and offices. And he said if he had been the one behind the decision, it wouldn’t have happened.

"This was a mistake," he said. "A historic mistake that someone has to be responsible for."

He said he didn’t want his words to be construed as a threat, but implied that he could use his authority to prolong the construction, or even stop it outright. He said he believed a majority of the city’s people oppose the U.S. using the Italian military facility.

Paolo Costa, the center-left former mayor of Venice who was selected to head the project by Italy’s president, said he has been willing to talk to anyone about the project.

U.S. officials said they expect work on building foundations to begin in April.

Costa said he met with Variati before the news conference and invited him to attend. He said he wanted to inform the mayor that a final environmental study had been concluded and all other approvals had been granted. Variati said he didn’t think that study was sufficient. Costa disagreed and said he was convinced the project would have no negative environmental impact.

Italian air force Lt. Col. Mauro Becherelli, a military construction planner, noted in his remarks that all buildings and facilities in the project either meet or exceed Italian environmental standards.

Becherelli said barracks would house 1,200 soldiers and multi-story parking garages would house as many as 800 vehicles. Because the vehicles are concentrated, more green spaces would be left between buildings.

Costa said Italy’s federal government is committed to providing funds to construct a new runway on the airfield for civilian use as well as help build a ring road to ease traffic concerns. But he said local officials need to submit specific plans to the federal level beforehand.

author picture
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up