June 6, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
AOPA is working to ensure that tenants of General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wis., have a say in land-swap discussions that could affect general aviation facilities in the airport’s northeast quadrant.
In February the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors took up a resolution proposing the land swap to accommodate future operations of the Air National Guard’s 128th Air Refueling Wing. The resolution, which would provide the unit with expanded apron space, asserts that changing land values in the northeast quadrant should bring about review of the airport area’s land use.
The County Board of Supervisors adopted the resolution in March. It was signed by County Executive Chris Abele on April 12.
General aviation tenants only learned of the agreement on its signing, said John Collins, AOPA manager of airport policy, adding that about 50 tenants could be displaced, and several air freight operations might also be affected by any reconfiguration of the quadrant.
In a subsequent meeting with the GA tenants, two county supervisors among the resolution’s sponsors pledged to work with all parties toward an acceptable compromise, Collins said. The meeting between the tenants and supervisors Jason Haas and Patricia Jursik highlighted the need for better communications within the airport community “and a recognition that the FAA also needs to be involved in the process,” he said.
The two supervisors followed up their attendance at the meeting with a letter to all parties concerned, promising a “transparent and forthright” process.
Collins responded to the supervisors in a May 25 letter: “AOPA hopes that the Board of Supervisors will work with the airport management to assure that (tenants) receive timely notification and have an opportunity to have their concerns addressed if the project moves forward.”
The FAA has informed AOPA that it will review the details of a land-swap proposal to ascertain that it maintains General Mitchell International Airport’s compliance with federal grant assurances
Collaboration and communication are the keys to ensuring smooth planning--and having an organized airport support group or tenants association is very helpful in ensuring that GA’s voice is heard at an airport. AOPA “looks forward to the collaborative process and will continue to keep an eye out for GA at General Mitchell International Airport,” he said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor.
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