With the combined voices of AOPA, local pilots, the local chamber of commerce, and the FAA raised against a plan to hold a vote on closing and selling Anacortes Airport (74S) in Washington State, airport officials have abandoned the idea.
The Port of Anacortes Commission, which operates the airport, had planned to ask voters whether they want to sell the airport for residential development. But on Tuesday, commissioners voted 4-1 to reverse their decision and abandon plans to put the non-binding advisory vote on the February ballot.
As AOPA pointed out in a strongly worded letter sent to commissioners last week, the airport is under federal grant obligations, making a vote on its future inappropriate.
"Any ballot measure put forth contemplating airport closure, binding or not, in addition to being an unnecessary waste of scarce airport and taxpayer funds, conflicts directly with the contract the Port has with the federal government," wrote AOPA Vice President of Airports Bill Dunn.
Talk of closing the airport, which followed on the heels of a $12 million offer from a Seattle developer to buy the property and replace it with as many as 400 houses, prompted the FAA to write a letter to the executive director of the Port of Anacortes, stating its adamant opposition to closing grant-obligated airports such as Anacortes.
While some members of the port commission initially took exception to the FAA's letter, telling the Anacortes American that the FAA may have been acting illegally by taking a position on a local matter.
Such suggestions are "ludicrous and absurd," Dunn wrote. "The FAA has been directed by the U.S. Congress and federal statute to protect the federal investment in airports that have received federal funding. Anacortes Airport clearly fits into this category."
Even the local chamber of commerce weighed in, releasing an official position statement saying it wants to see the airport remain open.
October 13, 2005