Airport Relocation Supporters, Opponents Speak Out

By: Courtney Hayes
By: Courtney Hayes

Sitting at nine pounds, 1,000 pages on the draft report by the FAA will play a major role the fight for and against a new airport in West Bay.

In it the FAA lays out the economic and environmental effects of relocating the airport to West Bay, as well as expanding the current runway or taking no action at all.

Airport Director Randy Curtis says the report's findings coincide with studies already done at a local level.

"It validates the work we've done in the airport feasibility study. It's nice to have someone say the same thing, but from an independent perspective," says Curtis.

Curtis says the study is just one of three steps, including the funding and permitting process that has to be taken before construction could begin in West Bay.

"We're moving ahead with info in the draft EIS. May make a decision subject to those components being completed," says Curtis.

Three board members already say they could make a decision regarding relocation after reading the rough draft; the other two say they rather wait until the FAA makes a final decision. Airport relocation opponents say waiting may be the best policy.

"I thought it was interesting in the board meeting. It seems to be an airport board and consultant world and a real world. In the real world we can't afford a sandwich machine in the terminal, and in the consultant world we need a new airport," says Don Hodges, airport opponent.

But if the FAA chooses airport relocation as the action of choice, airport supporters say federal funding will follow.

"None of the alternatives can be funded in the absence of the FAA endorsement," says Ed Wright, Partners for Progress.

You can read a copy of the report at the Bay County library or call the Airport Authority for a copy on disc.

The FAA will take public comment until the end of January, and they'll make a final decision thereafter.


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