One from CARE will do | SierraSun.com

One from CARE will do

Tom Grossman

I have always had a problem with groups that have misleading names. I believe the name should honestly reflect the intentions of the group or the cause its members support. Community Airport Restoration Effort (CARE) is a misleading name. This group doesn’t want to “restore” our airport. Exactly the opposite is true. The goal is to reduce operations and stop improvements.CARE has hidden its agenda in innuendo by saying the airport isn’t safe and is causing declining real estate values. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I don’t know of one property, residential or otherwise, that has lost value because of the airport. All property in the Tahoe-Truckee area has appreciated rapidly over the last few years, especially property near the airport. No person on the ground has been injured or killed by airplane accidents in Truckee. Unlike automobiles, there have been no drunken driving accidents involving aircraft in Truckee. If public safety were the real issue this group would focus on automobile-related accidents.What are the issues? Noise and aircraft over-flight. Noise pollution is a problem all over the Tahoe area and is not exclusive to Truckee or the airport. I live under the airplane flight traffic pattern in Prosser and occasionally hear aircraft. Personally, I am bothered by snowmobiles, motorcycles, trains and noise from Interstate 80 much more than the occasional airplane. But I can empathize with those who find aircraft noise disturbing.The current Truckee Tahoe Airport Board of Directors has taken many steps to educate and limit aircraft noise. Unfortunately the attitude of several current board members has clouded some of the good work that’s been accomplished. Some board members have come across in an arrogant and cavalier manner, fanning the flames of discontent that has helped fuel CARE. The manager of the airport hasn’t shown the sensitivity needed to work with airport opposition. Although airport operations may be managed in an excellent manner, this good work is all but lost because of the inability of staff to promote cooperation and good will with airport opponents. The tremendous economic benefit of the airport is subtle and often overlooked. I encourage people who have businesses or work in Truckee – especially those in the construction trades, real estate and hospitality – to look closely at our airport. It brings in customers who can afford your products and services. They buy homes and don’t burden the schools or recreation districts. In short, they are great for business.Rather than voting in a “slate” of candidates who want to gut airport operations and send all jets to Reno, what we need is a new board that will respect the community; one that promotes safe, quiet flying practices and keeps the wealthiest of customers coming back to Lake Tahoe. Having one candidate from CARE on the airport board would probably shake things up and make the entire body more responsive to community input. Having a slate of three CARE candidates on the board would be disastrous for the airport and its users. Voting for a slate, rather than individuals, rarely helps districts. Slate voting is similar to ballot-box land planning and doesn’t bode well for forthrightness. Slate voting leads to emotional, not intellectual, decisions.That said, I’ve known Kathleen Eagan for more than 10 years, and although I disagree with her agenda (to send business away from the Truckee airport) I believe she can shake up the airport board in a positive way. Kathleen has a history of community involvement and commitment to Truckee. Her prior accomplishments prove she doesn’t need the entire CARE slate to effect change. Voting for the slate would be wrong.Joe Ferrara, a Truckee resident and non-pilot; Adrian Howes, who lives under the main jet approach pattern; and Connie Stevens, who has tried to promote a better understanding with airport opposition, all merit support for the board.Recently a lady from the anti-airport group called to ask me to vote for the slate. She told me that they were not trying to prevent small aircraft from flying to the Truckee Tahoe Airport, just jets. I realized that she didn’t understand aviation. Jets pay a proportionately high amount of aviation expenses making it possible for the rest of us to fly affordably. Taking away jet revenue makes it harder for the average person to fly. America was the birthplace of aviation. For over 100 years Americans have enjoyed the freedom of flight. This freedom isn’t found in many other countries. Unfortunately the freedom of flight is under attack every day in the U.S. As development encroaches on existing airports, small groups pop up opposed to airport operations. It always starts the same: A small, vocal group raises issues of safety and property values when the issue is noise. They gain control of the boards or councils that operate the airport, raise fees, discourage use and reduce maintenance of the airfield.Then airport usage drops because costs are too high and facilities are in poor condition. Next, the new stewards of the airport say “See, no one needs this airport, we can close it and use the land for a higher-value use.” And then another airports is closed.Working to make all traffic into the Truckee Tahoe Airport more quiet is the No. 1 priority of the airport district. Electing the three best individual candidates will help this goal. Electing a slate will continue the divisiveness that currently exists at the airport.Tom Grossman is a resident of Truckee.