Monday, October 3, 2011

Blaine Airport Meeting is Well Attended

Editorial printed in the Blaine Banner, September 8, 2011

Perhaps the most significant thing that happened August 11 at the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) Informational meeting about Anoka County Blaine Airport(ANE) at Blaine City Hall was the size of the crowd. More people than last year decided the best use of their time was to attend the MAC meeting on one of the most beautiful nights of any Minnesota year.

The designated room was not large enough so Mayor Ryan made the Blaine City Council Chambers available and these quickly filled to standing room as well. This says volumes about the citizens of Anoka County and their concern about airport expansion. Compared to last year the meeting was more involved and more pointed questions were asked. The crowd included City officials, County Commissioners and State Legislators, and noise was the focus of many questions.

Joe Harris, the On-site Manager at Blaine Airport started the meeting by talking about new efforts to encourage promotion of ANE. The Airport has constructed an observation platform where anyone can watch flight operations. Also in the works is a program called "Adopt an Airport". The Minnesota Dept of Transportation has a website for this program. I could not find any information for Blaine ANE on the site. Joe said he wanted to get schools involved. These initiatives all seem to be an effort to encourage communication with citizens.

The question remains whether information from MAC and airport officials will be in balance between the advantages and disadvantages of airports and their expansion. Another question is how input from citizens will impact future airport decision making.

Next Joe introduced Gary Schmidt, Director of Reliever Airports. I asked Gary if the MAC had considered the impact a possible stadium would have on the neighborhood. He said he did not know about any additional pressure on flight operations at ANE from a stadium. He also said that so far this year, the number of flight operations has not changed from 2010.

A MAC representative whose name I believe was Danna spoke about noise programs and the new "Flight Tracker" technology available on the website. You can now see static flight tracks, animated flight tracks and near real time flight information on a map of flights anywhere in the MAC system. You can also pick a specific airport to view. Some information is available on altitude, aircraft type, speed and heading for each object on the map. This site is where noise complaints can be submitted.

I think it is very important that we continue to show interest in what happens at the Blaine airport (ANE). It impacts so many of our nearby neighborhoods. Hopefully all the citizen interest will remain. There is an ongoing effort by some to try to expand the Blaine Airport. Our attention to this matter can make a difference in the end, and the August 11 meeting showed that we are watching.

Ron Holch

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