I believe it would be in the community’s best interest to hear another perspective on the issues used by the Port of Camas/Washougal to not accept Federal grant funds to improve Grove Field.
Loss of Control
Airport supporters were working toward using FAA and State aviation trust fund money (money already collected that can only be used for aviation infrastructure) to bring Grove Field up to small airport, minimum design standards. The FAA would kick-in 95 percent and the State would kick in 2.5 percent of the funds. This project would improve safety and is needed to provide the minimum infrastructure to economically develop the airport (make it a place people want to do business).
In exchange for providing funding, the FAA wants the Port to agree to operate the airport for 20 years or payback the money on a prorated basis. All three Port commissioners have said that the airport will be around for a long time. If that is the case, then why not bring a $10 million infrastructure improvement project to our community to jump start our local economy with money that has already been collected from us?
In addition, the FAA wants any real property purchased with FAA money to remain an airport in perpetuity. If I gave you a piece of property to use in a way that I want, it would seem reasonable that I would want to be reimbursed for the property if you choose to do something else with it. And very little of this project involves real property acquisition.
Would you not apply for a loan for a new house because it was not a 100 percent sure thing that you would get the money? Why not work the program and if it doesn’t work out then you are no worse off. Furthermore, while Grove Field may be low on the priority totem pole, it’s only behind other airports that apply for the grant.