City of Wilsonville Blasts Airport Expansion Process for Lack of Transparency, Public Involvement

The Oregon Department of Aviation’s proposal for a $37 million expansion and runway extension at the Aurora State Airport has lacked transparency, been unrealistic and overly optimistic in its expectations, and refused the involvement of county and city jurisdictions whose residents would be directly impacted by the proposal.

These accusations, and more, form the basis of an open letter released this week by Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp and the Wilsonville City Council, which was, at times, scathing in its criticism of a decision they say was “effectively made behind closed doors,” without any intergovernmental notification or public process.

“As far as Wilsonville can tell, there were no public hearings held or public discussion of advancing a massive $37 million project that was originally projected as costing $7 million (2011 estimate), a 500+ percent cost increase,” the letter says. “There are no detailed capital improvement plans for the Aurora State Airport expansion available for public inspection. There was no notice to other impacted state agencies (e.g., ODOT), local governments, area residents or businesses that the Department of Aviation, without consultation, had decided to move the project forward.”

Wilsonville and Clackamas County leaders say their concerns are not purely local or neighborhood based, but rather, that this is a regional issue, which needs regional involvement.

“Why is the Oregon Department of Aviation (ODA) proposing to spend $37 million in public funds to extend a runway by 1,000 feet when an existing airport with a 6,000‐foot runway that is fully served with all urban services is only 22 nautical miles away?” the letter asks, referring to the municipal airport in Salem. “We understand that the Salem Municipal Airport has struggled for years to be commercially viable and is actively seeking more operations.”

The letter says that the impacts of expansion to area roads, the environment, city and county services and the many farms in the surrounding area have not been adequality considered or addressed.

It concludes by asking the ODA to withdraw its request for funding; agree to an intergovernmental agreement with Clackamas County, Marion County, Wilsonville, Aurora and any other impacted jurisdictions; and develop a new master plan for Aurora State Airport and all of Oregon’ state-owned airports.

The full letter from Mayor Knapp and the Wilsonville City Council, with exhibits, may be read below:

Click to access wilsonville-mayor-ltr-to-sen-courtney-re-aurora-airport-expansion-at-sept-e-board-10_2018.pdf

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