Vote no on airport ordinance |

Vote no on airport ordinance


In the spring of 1956, my mother and my aunt took me, my siblings, and my cousins to Disneyland, which had opened brand new a few months prior. The trip there was a breath of fresh air for a 12-year-old just displaced by a family move from rural Loveland, Colo. to suburban Long Beach, Calif. As we crossed the concrete San Gabriel River, Willow Street became Katella Avenue.

But more importantly, strip malls, houses, and stop-lights became open fields of strawberries, beans, and tomatoes along with orange groves in blossom. Twenty years later that drive had become the urban/suburban blight that was previously left behind by crossing that river. The same will happen to Carson Valley. The forces of progress and development can be quite far forward thinking and patient.

They have been stalled by recessions several times in the 30 years I have lived here in Gardnerville and Minden, but development will not be stopped because there is so much money to be made. But we can stop the Minden-Tahoe Airport from becoming a regional destination that the forces of development envision.

Orange County Airport was a military airfield in WWII, as was Minden-Tahoe Airport. In the 1950s OC was a sleepy little airport that was shut down on most Sundays to become the Santa Ana Drag Strip, the first commercial dragstrip in the nation.

The quite precient forces of development of the time re-routed MacArthur Boulevard around what was planned to become up to a 10,000 foot runway. That did not happen because John Wayne, marketing namesake to the airport he hated, and his neighbors on and around Balboa Island under the climb-out pattern had the political clout to keep the 405 freeway from going into a tunnel at the north end of the runway. This limited the runway length to an eventual 5,700 feet at close to sea level.

The Douglas County (marketed as Minden-Tahoe) Airport has a 7,400 foot main runway at just above 4,700 foot elevation. The two airports are roughly equivalent in aircraft performance capability. Section 3A of the proposed airport ordinance prohibits “strengthening of taxiways and ramps, except to the extent necessary to conform (them) to the weight bearing capacity of the runways.” The “weight bearing capacity of the runways” seems to be in dispute, with 75,000-110,000 pounds appparently being the range in question. The weight capacity of the airport seems to be limited by the weight capacities of the taxiways and ramps, which the new ordinance would except from not being strengthened.

It is my opinion that if the new airport ordinance is passed as now written, there in 20 to 30 years will be three regional airports in the area (Reno, Silver Springs, and our own Douglas County/Minden-Tahoe). If passed as written, it will never get fixed; it needs to be re-written with everyone’s complete knowledge of the real FAA acknowledged runway weight capacity. Please vote no.

Charles Gillies