Gail M. Garneau: Let residents vote on area airports
In response to Cindy Maddox’s letter on Aug. 25, the city’s proposed 2005 budget includes $379,000 transferred from the general fund to the Steamboat Springs Airport. Also, there will be an additional $1 million in taxpayer dollars for airport capital improvements with the possibility of more.
Remember to compare the $7.5 million in economic impact from the Steamboat airport to the $183 million in economic impact generated by the Yampa Valley Regional Airport. For every dollar in economic impact provided by the Steamboat Springs Airport, the Yampa Valley airport near Hayden provides $24. If the two airports were combined, the $7.5 million from the Steamboat Springs Airport would not go away, but instead be shifted to the Hayden airport.
Combining the two airports could mean big savings to the taxpayers — only one manager, one snow removal crew with equipment and other staff, and all the capital (millions) to a single, safer facility that would serve all of the public. If two airports are such a good idea, then why in the 2002 Community Survey was the Steamboat Springs Airport ranked 19th of 19 facilities, with a 3:1 ratio of strongly disapprove (60 percent) to strongly approve (20 percent)?
I challenge the City Council to allow the public to place a referendum question on this fall’s election ballot that asks, “Should the city of Steamboat Springs close the Steamboat Springs Airport and combine all aviation activities at the Yampa Valley Airport in Hayden?” Then our informed electorate can weigh the pros and cons and make a decision on the future multi-million dollar expenditures for the Steamboat Springs Airport. This also would remove the impression that the City Council majority is controlled by a small special interest group whose personal interests come at the expense of the community’s public interest.
If the City Council pro-airport majority of Paul Strong, Kathy Connell, Nancy Kramer and Loui Antonucci will not put this issue on this November ballot, why not? Who are they protecting and why? Why won’t they let the public vote on how their tax money will be spent?
Gail M. Garneau
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