CARE does care about the airport
Much rhetoric is flying through the air regarding the upcoming Truckee Tahoe Airport Board of Directors election. The voters are probably a bit weary of hearing it. As is always true at election time, some rhetoric is fact-based, other rhetoric is not and the voters are left with the job of trying to figure out what they believe and what they don’t. Community Airport Restoration Effort (CARE), and the three candidates it supports, has been the target of some of the rhetoric surrounding the airport board election. Now is a good time for CARE to set the record straight.First, it is essential to clearly state that CARE strongly agrees that the Truckee Tahoe Airport is an important resource for our region. There is no argument here. The airport provides a facility for pilots to enjoy their passion for flying, contributes to our economy, is a convenient venue for fighting wildland fires and providing emergency services, offers wonderful programs and opportunities for our youth, and provides good jobs for our friends and neighbors. The overall community sees these benefits and wants them to continue. So does CARE. Since its formation, CARE’s stated mission has been to “preserve our mountain community’s quality of life and the long-term viability of the Truckee Tahoe Airport” (emphasis added). There is little difference on this point between CARE’s view and the views of the current airport board and all the candidates running for airport board.There is a difference, though, over the issue of how recent airport boards have allowed the airport to expand. CARE believes that the board-approved, growth-oriented policies are significantly altering the character of Truckee and the Martis Valley. Those who live in this area know first hand that their airport has rapidly changed from a small community-oriented facility to an airport that is dominating the area with noticeable increases in the volume and type of air traffic. Those who live here now understand the kinds of restrictions that will be placed on our hospitals, churches, and community facilities as a result of a growing airport.CARE believes we need to make a change from the board’s current policy of simply enabling and encouraging all growth in air traffic to a policy of managed growth. CARE fully understands that this is not an easy proposition given the requirements of the FAA and other government entities. But issues that affect the future of a community rarely are easy to resolve. It is essential that we elect individuals to the airport board who are genuinely committed to finding effective solutions that reduce negative impacts on our community while maintaining a well-run airport.CARE also believes the general public needs a much stronger voice in the governance of the airport. The public’s property taxes provide over half of the airport’s revenue, yet only 1 percent of our permanent residents are pilots. Decisions the airport board makes do have a significant effect on the surrounding area. The airport desperately needs an informed community perspective on its board to assure that its actions do not work against the wishes and desires of the community as a whole. This is vital, both to the success of the community and the success of the airport.CARE seeks an airport board that works in harmony with the region, not a board that allows the airport to overshadow the communities it serves. CARE wants to “restore” the concept of community into our airport’s decisions. It is as simple as that.The Truckee Tahoe Airport serves many needs in our community that we want to preserve. We also deeply cherish the quality of life we enjoy in our mountain community; the peace, quiet and security of being in a small town setting, away from the press of urban clatter and conflict. This is why we live here. To realize both, we must make every effort to ensure that the use of our airport is appropriate to the surrounding community.Bill Kraus is a member of the Community Airport Restoration Effort. CARE is an organization formed to provide information about the implications the growth in volume and type of air traffic has on the area’s quality of life. CARE hopes the information will inform constructive dialog regarding impacts on the surrounding community. For more, go to http://www.airportcare.org.