Wed, Feb 18, 2009
Land Purchased Under AIP Has Gone To The Dogs... Literally
Commissioners of the Port of Orcas
in Washington State's San Juan Islands are preparing to butt heads
with the FAA in support of local dog owners.
At issue is a parcel of land adjacent to Orcas Island Airport,
purchased by the port with an FAA Airport Improvement Program grant
for future expansion needs, but in use temporarily as an off-leash
dog park. The FAA is pressuring the port commission to terminate
the Eastsound Off-Leash Dog Park from its temporary agreement to
use the land.
A report in the Islands Sounder says the issue is an AIP
provision that requires airports receiving grants to reserve use of
airport land and revenues for the benefit of aviation. But a letter
from FAA Project Manager Timothy Shaw to the port commission
suggests the real reason for the eviction demand is to eliminate
any possibility of future hassles when expansion is needed.
"Our past experience in the Orcas Island community have shown us
that changes at the airport against the community will take quite a
while to accomplish, so we see this as a real risk," Shaw
Jeff Hanson of the Dog Park Board reminded commissioners at
their Monday meeting, "...we have taken steps to both enhance the
area for the off-leash area users and to protect the port's
property from damage. We respectfully request that the port
continue to permit the use of this land until it is truly needed
for airport purposes, at which time the off-leash area improvements
will be removed."
Commissioner Ullanah McCoy told Hansen, "You are preaching to
the choir. We're with you." Fellow Commissioner Al Edwards said of
the FAA, "It's not like they're holding a gun to our heads, but
they're holding a gun to our heads."
The port commission's next meeting is scheduled for March
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