US Representative and Business Community support
Sound safety reasons for Grant
Local environmental opposition will be heard
National criteria are applicable
“Longmont has applied for two federal grants totaling $22.8 million in hopes of accelerating the start dates for two planned projects to improve Vance Brand Municipal Airport, that could now possibly begin as soon as this year.
The city’s move drew the ire of airport critics who oppose its expansion and have long complained of the noise generated by flights — especially those of the Mile-Hi Skydiving business — suffered by residents of neighborhoods nearby the facility.
But U.S. Rep. Ken Buck expressed his support for the city’s plans in a letter to Federal Aviation Administration last month, urging officials to approve Longmont’s funding requests.
Longmont has asked the FAA…for $14 million to construct an extended runway, extend two taxiways and make land purchases necessary for the project and extend a vehicle service road, according to city news release Wednesday.
The city has also applied for an $8.8 million grant from the FAA to expedite its South Campus Development project, which includes improved utility infrastructure, taxi lane access, an aircraft parking apron, automobile access and parking, fencing and a welcome facility with airport manager offices, the release said.
Buck in his letter pointed out that Vance Brand’s runway currently is out of compliance with FAA standards for airports considered “high-altitude,” which Longmont Airport Manager David Slayter confirmed.
“Many aircraft that frequent Vance Brand contain turbo-prop and jet engines, which the current runway cannot support when these aircraft have full fuel tanks, forcing pilots to refuel at secondary stops,” Buck stated in the letter. “Aircraft are also restricted from operating during periods of high temperature.”
Applying for the grants aligns the city with a recommendation of an informal airport development committee that analyzed how to expedite investment in Vance Brand to make it a more business-friendly airport.
…But critics of the airport are disappointed they were not given a chance to oppose sending the grant applications to the FAA, despite that the projects have been planned by the city for years and only placed on the backburner due to lack of financing.
“The decision by city of Longmont officials to request more than $22 million in FAA grants to expand the Longmont airport should be alarming to anyone who cares about environmental quality in Boulder County,” Gunbarrel resident and frequent Vance Brand critic Kimberly Gibbs said. “These FAA grants … are handcuffs, preventing any local control over noise and other pollution regulations. The grants and resulting airport expansion will create an irreversible dumping ground of unregulated aviation noise and pollution.”
The debate about applying for FAA AIP grant funds for the Vance Brand Municipal Airport in Longmont, CO is typical contest between the proponents and opponents of aviation.
KLMO is like many General Aviation airports with 294 aircraft, 273 hangars and 75,000 takeoffs and landings annually. The businesspersons and US Representative are aware of the economic benefit of this infrastructure. Most importantly for FAA consideration of an AIP grant request Rep. Buck pointed out that that “Vance Brand’s runway currently is out of compliance with FAA standards for airports considered ‘high-altitude.’”
The opposition, as vocalized by Ms. Gibbs, see any addition to the airport as an anathema to the environment. COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES, especially those with centralized planning control, the average ordinary citizen would have no say. Before the FAA issues a grant, it must carefully review whether the dollars spent will have a significant impact on the surrounding community. The measurements and processes which assess this change have been enacted by Congress and affirmed in litigation many times.
Ms. Gibbs may have a different view of handcuffs. They are usually imposed against an individual for some transgression; few are shackled voluntarily. The AIP grants are part of a national program in recognition that we need a system of airports.
The dollars spent were collected in “taxes” applied to every airline passenger. They are labeled by many as “user fees” because they support a national system. Longmont was granted those funds by the FAA based on the value Vance Brand provides to all users of the system.
In making that funding decision, it would be a violation of the fiduciary duty of the FAA to finance development at KLMO without protections of that national investment in a local project. The agreement signed by every airport sponsor “handcuffs” the airport to maintain the use of the new infrastructure for national purposes. The documents signed by the sponsor make it clear that the quid pro quo for the grant is compliance with the assurance terms, i.e. “preventing any local control over noise and other pollution regulations” (Ms. Gibbs terms).
That’s not a handcuff-
Share this article: