Airport Closures, Noise and Development
Wednesday, 14 September 2011 11:09
In his recent editorial submission, under the heading “Housing construction in airport traffic area”, Mr. Krause uses hyperbole to try and convince us that noise and encroachment issues were responsible for the closure of two general aviation airports and one “struggling for its life”. The implication is that these same issues will force the closure of Sanderson Field if the Shelton Hills Development project is allowed to go forward.
What follows, as Paul Harvey used to say, “Is the rest of the story”.
1) The first airport cited by Mr. Krause was in Blain, WA, near the Canadian border. Prior to closure, Blaine Airport was listed under “Abandoned or Little Known Airfields”, and had only a 2,539 ft. runway (half the length of Sanderson Field runway). But neither “noise aggravation” nor residential encroachment was responsible for the closure of Blaine; in 2008 the city council chose to close the airport, entirely for economic reasons.
2) The second airport closure cited was Sun Valley, or Hailey Airport, in Idaho. As with Blaine, Hailey Airport was not closed as a result of any encroachment or noise issues; rather it was replaced by a new, larger facility, Friedman Memorial Airport. The only part residential growth played in the closure of Hailey airport was to expedite construction of a new, larger airport with more amenities.
3) Finally, Paine Field Airport, described by Mr. Krause as “struggling for its life”, is located 30 miles north of downtown Seattle. The airport is home to 615 general aviation aircraft and the largest third party repair center in North America, servicing Alaska, Delta, Southwest and UPS fleets. Paine Field Airport accommodates 747s, 767s, 777s and even the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner on a regular basis. And though Paine Airfield does have some noise issues, it is definitely not “struggling” or in jeopardy of closure anytime in the foreseeable future. Moreover, to compare Paine Airfield to Sanderson Field is not so much comparing apples to oranges as it is apples to elephants.
4) Mr. Krause goes on to state that “Sanderson’s economic impact on Shelton is $12 million, annually”, or about half of the entire budget of Mason County. But according to the Port of Shelton’s own accounting figures, gross revenues generated from airport operations at Sanderson Field were reported to be only $161,789.71 in 2010. How Mr. Krause gets $12 million dollars of annual economic impact from that hard figure is a mystery only he can explain.
On a final note, presenting hyperbole as fact is a tactic used by port managers to propel an ideological agenda. But spin the facts as they may, not even the port can dance away from the damage it has inflicted on our economic recovery. At the end of the day, the best chance Mason County has to grow and prosper may be sabotaged by the very municipality created to promote just such growth. And if history is any indication, the port will do it all while claiming it’s for our own good.
Tom Davis, Shelton