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home : opinions : opinions July 26, 2017

2/21/2017 2:08:00 PM
Airport has many economic benefits
By Jack Addison

Regarding the recent public meeting held by the Oregon Department of Aviation at the Sisters High School: I expressed support for the move to be listed in "Appendix M" because the location and the potential benefit for the community support that listing. I still support that listing after attending the meeting.

The primary attraction I have to the airport is not the fact that I have an airplane (which I keep at Prineville), but it is the important complement it offers to the 44 or so business park lots available for good-paying jobs, much like Benny and Julie Benson's engineering company. If one looks up Chapter 8 listed in the Oregon Department of Aviation document, one sees economic benefits in the millions of dollars, for communities having airports similar in size to Sisters Airport. An even more detailed study sponsored by the City of Sisters and the airport administration would suggest economic avenues to aid the attraction of appropriate business for the business park and nearby light-industrial area for the development of clean, substantial, year-round, family-wage businesses.

Businesses are often in need of a close-by airport to reach out to their customers and clients, or even their headquarters say in Portland, Boise, or the Bay Area. A typical business aircraft, even propeller-driven, can economically reach the western states in a few hours with no delays for parking, "checking in," or very unpredictable security lines. Denver or Phoenix in four to five hours is very doable, which is the time it takes to check in at Redmond, fly to Portland, and then connect in a regional carrier. But the IMPACT! No, actually this type of business flying is quite low-profile and typically would entail only a few departures a month. Fewer in the winter.

The other issue of interest stated by ODA was "essential safety of emergency services."

To that, witness the recent State concerns in the form of public meetings concerning the Cascadia Event or similar emergency affecting power and transportation issues. Sisters is strategically located as the first town on this side of the mountains that would greet a mass exodus from Portland to Eugene. The choke of traffic entering Sisters would be in need of services including fuel and food despite the grid being down. Persons needing medical attention could be flown by helicopter or fixed-wing to cities still receiving power from the electric grid. Sisters is easily a first-demand stop for road traffic coming from the Valley during an evacuation, and provides the first outpost for law enforcement through the Sisters Sheriff's Substation. Additionally, aircraft under FAA Seattle Center control will be diverted to Redmond, Bend, Madres, Sun River and, yes, Sisters, too, if we are listed in Appendix M.

The DOA meeting included lots of support, and there was a repeated significant community concern regarding the noise, in particular from the skydive aircraft. I have concern for the noise from all aircraft. The issue of noise is important. I strongly encourage the principals to seriously engage the issue, and I have items that can and should be included in such a discussion. I'll include these in a future letter to address the justifiable concerns of all the Sisters residents, whether under the flight path or not.

Listing the Sisters Airport under Appendix M would benefit the community for emergency services and provide enhancement opportunities for the business park and unrelated to the important but separate issue of noise control and abatement.

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