Grove Field airport issues attract interest of area residents

Project could include tunnel under Delp Road

A proposed action to bring Grove Field Airport into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration design standards recently attracted approximately 45 people to the Port of Camas-Washougal meeting room.

Correcting the design standard deficiencies would involve widening the runway to 60 feet, lengthening the runway to 3,070 feet, clearing obstructions within the airport’s runway safety area and shifting the runway to meet centerline/taxiway separation standards.

The Feb. 8 public hearing included comments regarding whether the port commission should decide to accept $10 million for improvements from the FAA, in exchange for a guarantee that Grove Field will remain an airport for at least 20 years. The application and subsequent approval for state and federal funding would pay for 97.5 percent of the costs.

Relocating Delp Road could involve digging a tunnel near the home of Steve and Kathy Mezzanatto.

They have lived on Delp Road for 11 years.

“You are destroying our neighborhood,” Kathy said.

Gene Coupe has lived in Lacamas Shores for 16 years.

She and her husband moved there because of its proximity to Grove Field and Portland International Airport.

“I support the funding and tunnel under Delp Road,” Coupe said. “It is the safest and has the least impact.”

Terry Tucker and her husband live near the Grove Field approach.

“I am not against expansion,” she said. “I do have concerns about property values.

Tucker wants to protect the landscaping.

“There is an acre of trees in our backyard, and our kids remember it’s like a park,” she said.

Tucker also wondered whether there would be an increase in air traffic noise.

Richard Martin, of Vancouver, talked about students who learn how to fly at Grove and he compared them to individuals who learn how to drive a truck and obtain commercial drivers licenses.

“When learning to drive, you start with something smaller,” he said. “That’s what Grove is.”

Kari Garmin, of Washougal, believes the airport improvements would be beneficial to the community. When she recently flew to Oshkosh, Wis., she was able to check the flight plan on a computer at that airport.

That is among the amenities and improvements Garmin would like to see locally.

“With 95 percent funding, to me it’s a no brainer,” she said.

Martha Martin, who lives just outside the Washougal city limits, said online research about general aviation trends produced mixed results.

She noticed the number of flight certifications had decreased, and there was a four percent decline in the number of accidents in 2010 compared to 2009.

Martin wondered if the port should accept money for improvements.

“Does it pencil out economically?” she asked. “It is a small airport for small airplanes. It is a fantastic facility.

It needs some [tender loving care],” Martin added. “Does it need $10 million of TLC? I can think of other things to use $10 million for.”

For more information about the proposed improvements at Grove Field, call the port office at 835-2196 or visit www.portcw.com.

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