Our View: Building a community center with risks and benefits
January 3, 2006
The crash of a business jet last Wednesday, and the deaths of its two pilots, is a tragedy. Most of the 20 or so people who posted comments about the accident on sierrasun.com reflected the understandable sorrow for the families of the pilots. And then the familiar bickering started.Along with passing on a good thought for the crew, one person posted a comment that included “Thank god the plane didn’t land on a house. This is why they should have moved the airport years ago!!”That precipitated an avalanche of responses about “politicizing” the tragic death of two men. Many of those comments were full of their own pro-airport rhetoric.Considering all the noise surrounding the election for the Truckee Tahoe Airport District board of directors in 2004, the comments were, sadly, not surprising.No matter where you stand on the airport issue, last week’s crash does raise legitimate questions about development under – or very near – the airport’s flight paths. Probably the most glaring is the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District’s proposed community center on the “commercial triangle” parcel bounded by Donner Pass Road, Highway 89 north and Interstate 80.As a guest columnist writes on this page in “Planned rec center and planes are bad combination,” the Truckee Tahoe Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan that allows for the construction of such a center doesn’t mean that an aircraft cannot crash there. It does limit the number of people who can gather there at any one time and it does set forth specific construction techniques that would help ward off damage from a plummeting aircraft.But it surely isn’t a magic force field.The need for a community center is legitimate and the features proposed by the district for the facility are first-rate. To expand it beyond the first phase, however, will likely take the blessing of property owners who would have to foot the bill via an assessment.For some people, a “no” vote may be spurred by financial reasons rather than safety reasons. Others may vote to tax themselves to build a state-of-the-art community center that further increases the quality of life in their community. No matter which side of the issue you are on, it is important for all of us to discuss the real risks and real benefits.