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Fri, Aug 26, 2005

Buchanan Breathes Easier

Major Threat To CCR Lifted

Developers eyeing Buchanan Field in Concord, CA, appear to have thrown in the towel in efforts to shut down the airport in favor of new construction. AOPA, local pilots, members of Congress and congressional aviation leaders, and the FAA all have been fighting a county plan to close the airport and redevelop the land. Those efforts appear to have paid off.

Now, even the developers have thrown in the towel. Shapell Industries has withdrawn its proposal — which Contra Costa County solicited — to build 6,000 homes on Buchanan Field and construct a new airport "somewhere else." But Shapell discovered that other possible airport sites were either not for sale or "have been deemed undesirable by the local pilots."

"Finally, common sense has prevailed, and an important airport will be preserved," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Congratulations to the local pilots, legislative leaders, and FAA officials who fought for two years to defeat this bad idea."

Even the county official who championed the redevelopment idea has reportedly seen the light.

"I think [redeveloping the airport] was worth looking into if we didn't spend taxpayer money," Contra Costa Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier told the Contra Costa Times newspaper. "I think now the board needs to get back to being re-energized about the existing airport and making it as good as it can be."

Ironically, that's just what AOPA said the county should do two years ago when the association told DeSaulnier, "Rather than exploring continued discussions about airport closure and redevelopment options, AOPA asks for your support in promoting the airport and exploring ways in which the airport can be the cornerstone for the development and economic well-being of your community."

Since the military first gave the airport to the county in 1948, it has grown into a major reliever airport for the San Francisco Bay area and the forty-fifth busiest general aviation airport in the nation, with more than 580 based aircraft and some 157,000 annual flight operations.

FMI: www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/depart/pw/airport/ccr.htm

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