Glenwood Springs Mayor’s Column: 2A ballot measure will clarify future of airport
A vote this fall for 2A is an opportunity for the community to clarify the future of the Glenwood Springs airport runway. It is important that people know what they are voting for and, more importantly, what they are not voting for.
A vote for 2A is 4 miles and costs an owner about $ 25 per $ 100,000 of the home’s estimated value each year. This amount will be about four times that of the owners of commercial buildings.
It is very important to understand that a helicopter operations center will be maintained in all scenarios and circumstances, regardless of the outcome of this vote. All firefighting or medical evacuation activities that take place at Glenwood Springs Airport are conducted exclusively by helicopters. Big tankers and slurry bombers have to come from Colorado Springs or Grand Junction. Fixed-wing fireplanes simply cannot use the GWS airport, and helicopters do not need a runway. We all live in Glenwood like you do, and I would never endanger my family or my neighbors in the event of a wildfire or medical evacuation.
Of the amount raised, $ 5.5 million will be spent on digging tunnels under the runway so that the small fixed-wing aircraft can continue to use the airstrip. Several million more dollars must be invested in the airport to make it safe, secure and functional. For example, the runway must have a new $ 300,000 fuel system, ground lighting, runway sealer, hangars, weed management, security / wildlife fencing, and a comprehensive list of other items. of deferred maintenance that have accumulated over the years. There are currently serious safety code violations associated with refueling systems, and the Fire Marshal has given the city 30 days to correct these threats which are adjacent to residential properties.
Although some airport users feel that many of these improvements are unnecessary, it is the responsibility of staff and city council to ensure that the safety, security and potential liability of all city assets are in the foreground. Private aviation is an inherently risky hobby, and it is our responsibility to minimize risk and limit our exposure to legal liability.
If 2A does not pass, then the future of the airport runway portion is less certain. We have tried, with some small success, to find grants for South Bridge. Just this week, we were informed that our $ 1 million Congressional assignment of Senator John Hickenlooper was successful. Unfortunately, being a non-FAA commercial airport, it is not possible to obtain a grant for the tunnel part of the project. So far we have committed $ 25 million on a $ 56 million project. Being able to reduce the cost of the project by $ 5.5 million by not building a tunnel under the runway will be a significant cost saving. Conversely, if 2A is able to pass, then we will have the necessary financing for the tunnel, and the financing gap will be the same. In either scenario, we are closing the funding gap and bringing South Bridge closer to reality.
If 2A does not pass, the board will have to commit significant financial resources to improving the safety issues associated with the track. Without the source of income that 2A would provide, these funds would have to come from the general city fund, which provides the budgets for services like the police, the fire department and the streets. How is city council cutting budgets across town when voters just told us they didn’t want new taxes spent on maintaining a trail? What if we were spending several million dollars anyway, the infrastructure bills were passed, and we now had federal funding to begin construction of South Bridge? Is this an acceptable âsunk cost to taxpayersâ?
That’s why the council voted to ask this question to voters in November. We need to understand whether citizens appreciate the runway portion of the airport when they are asked directly to finance it. Otherwise, it is misleading to say that closing the trail before investing in these big capital expenditures is not a strong possibility.
The passage of the 2A guarantees, at least for the next generation, the certainty and viability of the runway that owners of small private planes have been asking for. It fixes the many security issues identified by staff and funds the tunnel. The failure of 2A creates a significant financial burden on the rest of the city with no easy way to pay for the upgrades. The failure of 2A could even mean the closure of the runway. Please vote wisely and call me if you have any questions: 970-379-4248.
Jonathan Godes is Mayor of Glenwood Springs. He was first elected to Glenwood Spring City Council in 2017.