Bob Elliott’s Aug. 23 Post-Record guest column offered a “different perspective on FAA funding” for the Port of Camas-Washougal’s Grove Field. Unfortunately, Bob’s perspective seems to be from the rather narrow viewpoint of many Grove Field airport users.
I’m not a pilot and I live east of Washougal, so I gave airport issues little attention until I was selected to serve on the Port’s Environmental Assessment Advisory Committee for Grove Field. Since then I have paid close attention. As the only committee member without an individual or institutional interest in airport issues, I took my duty to represent the average Port District resident very seriously. So here are some thoughts from my perspective.
The idea of Federal Aviation Administration funding for Grove Field has been around for several years. Some airport users have been in full support of accepting the funding, and the airport expansion and obligation to the FAA that came with it. They considered it a “no brainer,” which sounded to me like an invitation not to think too deeply about it. Some airport opponents consider Grove Field to be a nuisance and a hazard. Some even suggested that this publicly owned land would benefit more of the area’s residents if it was converted to soccer fields.
There seems to have been enough information (or misinformation) to argue either side of the contentious issues involved. Unfortunately, that is what occurred. Most discussion amounted to arguing one side or the other.
The previous Port Commission was solidly in favor of Grove Field becoming FAA obligated from the start. They installed an advisory committee to consider whether this project was a good idea, but abandoned the committee when it appeared to be heading toward a recommendation not to proceed. Then they installed the committee that I served on, but our primary task was to consider options for dealing with the county road that was in the way of the proposed runway expansion. There was no doubt that they were going forward with FAA funding. As their final action before leaving office, the last two of these previous commissioners directed their consultant to line up funding for the project. Their goal remained clear and unchanged while they “gathered information.”