Letters to the Editor

Development: City role in airport won't work

Why would the city of Oak Harbor want to lease the runway at Wes Lupien Air Park?

Does the mayor believe if the city rents the runway the federal government will give them money to improve that runway? The FAA will grant money to municipalities that own airports that need improvements. They will not grant money to improve private property.

I would want the FAA to give written agreement to that before any lease was signed. Because I believe that the FAA will only deal with matching funds, where will those matching funds come from?

Let us assume that we lease the runway, the feds give us money to upgrade the airport. What does that get us? We still need an airline to provide air passage to Seattle.

We have that now, but it does not go to SeaTac, and it never will. Island Air and Kenmore will stop and pick you up and fly you to Seattle to any one of three places, Boeing Field, Lake Union, or Renton. Any of these plane rides will end up in a bus or cab to the front gate of SeaTac.

Post Sept. 11 security at SeaTac has not allowed any small aircraft to fly in behind security and off load passengers and let them walk up the stairs like Harbor Air was allowed to do. That's SeaTac's worst nightmare.

So what I see happening is the city getting us what we have now, at a much greater price, and improving someone else’s property at our expense. Does that make good sense to anyone but the city, and the property owner whoever that is to be when the court makes final decision?

What would make good sense is for Island County to petition the Navy for joint use at Outlying Field, or Ault Field and then trying to get Horizon to make a stop on its flight from Bellingham to SeaTac and back. That would place the passengers behind the security screening where we want to be. (Where we were prior to Sept. 11.)

OK, here is the catch, we would as a county be required to build a terminal that meets the security requirements of the FAA — yes, screeners and the whole lot. But wouldn't we be better off on federal property with a long term joint use agreement, than on private property with a lease, for how long?

An airline such as Horizon operating off OLF makes a lot more sense. The runway meets all requirements for a GPS instrument approach that would get us on and off this Island safely. Remember what Harbor Air’s nickname was (“white knuckle”). Horizon operates much better equipment than any of the small air taxi operators.

We would be required to make a cash outlay to start, but I believe parking fees alone would pay us back. The safety aspect alone is priceless.

Wes Lupien Memorial Air Park is a great place to fly little aircraft, but I really don't think the city of Oak Harbor needs to be in the liability loop of operations there.

Tom Downey

Oak Harbor

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