NASA Buffer Zone To Turn Into Saint's End Zone

If you live anywhere around Stennis Space Center, chances are good you've heard or felt the shake rattle and roar of a space shuttle main engine tests firing. NASA's huge buffer zone lessens the impact on the community.

The Buffer zone is an area where the Government owns an restrictive easement that prohibits people from having certain kind of structures. It's basically any kind of structure that's subseptable to human habititation. Approximately one-third of Hancock County is NASA Buffer Zone. The 125-thousand acres were purchased by the federal government for more than 18 million dollars. Private citizens still own land in the buffer zone. NASA allows them to farm cattle, grow timber and mine dirt, but they need special permission to build anything.

One Resident, Joey Manieri, was just nine years-old when he says his parents were forced to sale their 40 acres of land to NASA in the early 1960's. Manieri says putting a football stadium in the buffer zone, while good for the economy, would be a slap in the face to people who had to give up their land. "How can they say Ok you can have this structure for the public which comes in day and night year in and year out but you can't have a private land owner come in and stay it doesn't make since it doesn't add up, Manieri said. Stennis officials agree. But one must remember that the Hancock County welcome center is in the buffer zone. The weigh station is too. Both received a special exemption.

NASA Chief Counsel, Ken Human says that putting the Saints Stadium in the buffer Zone is "a unique national asset and it's really intracle to the whole purpose and mission of Stennis." And Human says that so far the Saints Football Team haven't even approached NASA officials about the deal.