My Turn: Short-sighted vote by airport board
In reference to the letter to the editor of March 14 (The good war) regarding the Truckee Tahoe Airport board of directors denying the helicopter testing company access to the airport due to concerns about noise, we would like to add another perspective.Although humbled by the writers global grasp of the incident, we have a more parochial view. The company that was requesting to test the helicopter, QinetiQ, is a British firm who has tested their helicopters at several other locations in the United States usually with warm welcomes from the local communities. And why wouldnt they be welcomed? Twenty-five engineers coming to eat, sleep, shop, buy fuel and supplies from the local airport and community for three months amounts to quite a significant economic boost to that community. QQ estimated that the economic impact for Truckee would have been more than $700,000 for that three months. Three months that are non-peak tourist times when many local businesses have to lay off employees as they struggle to make it through until the next high season.We do know that the hotel revenues alone would have been in the range of $250,000 and the associated tax (which goes directly into the community) would have been over $25,000. And while we cannot pretend to be unbiased as our hotel would have benefited directly, that in no way diminishes our regret that the community at large (rental car companies, restaurants, souvenir shops, gas stations, etc.) also lost out. The Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce and every person in this community who has a job impacted by tourism works very hard to promote the Truckee area and to service well the people who come as a result of that marketing. And yet, a group of five people can decide that one lone helicopter taking off at 6 a.m. at the far end of the airport and flying not over Truckee but heading to Reno would create too much noise for the community to tolerate. The board of directors took the step of protecting the local citizens without checking first with those same citizens to see if they wished to be protected. At a time when the pilots who utilize the Truckee Airport are being asked to pay substantial rate increases to subsidize falling revenues at the airport this vote was short-sighted at best and possibly illegal at worst. (We have been told by knowledgeable sources that the airport receives federal funds which means they are not allowed to discriminate against anyone using the airport in a proper manner.)One of the board members stated that she would have a hard time looking someone in the eye that may have been disturbed by the testing. However, having to look an employee in the eye and tell them there is no work for them is a lot tougher. All because one lone helicopter wanted to take off at 6 a.m., at the far end of the airport and fly, not over Truckee, but toward Reno.Rick Rucker and Debbie Canestrinoare are with the Tahoe-Truckee Hampton Inn & Suites
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