November 5, 2008
By AOPA ePublishing staff
Biddeford, Maine, residents made their support for their airport loud and clear on Nov. 4. A ballot referendum that would have closed Biddeford Municipal failed, with 82 percent of the votes in favor of keeping airport open.
“This was an outstanding response from the community to save its airport,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy. “AOPA’s Airport Support Network volunteer Alan Lyscars and Friends of Biddeford Airport pulled out all the stops to educate the community on the value and importance of the airport.”
The referendum asked residents to spend at least $3 million to close Biddeford Municipal Airport. The city put the referendum on the ballot because of noise complaints from neighbors close to the airport and allegations that the airport didn’t “pay its own way” in the community.
AOPA worked with area pilots on local television and newspaper ads, a series of informational mailings, and a yard sign campaign. AOPA President Phil Boyer sent an open letter to the community in March, which was published in the local paper, explaining that the airport maintains “green space” in the community and helps prevent over development, directly contributes millions of dollars to the local economy each year, and provides the city access to the rest of the country.
The FAA also opposed closing the airport, and the Maine Department of Transportation estimated that the airport contributes more than $3.5 million annually to the local economy.
“This is a perfect example of what a partnership between a strong local airport group and AOPA’s resources and staff can accomplish when they work toward the same goal,” Dunn said.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
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