PI Editorial: Lack of clarity in Glenwood airport ballot questions disappointing
What does Glenwood Springs want for the future of its airport?
Right or wrong, like it or not, that appears to be the question before voters this election.
The Glenwood Springs City Council voted earlier this year to put two questions on airport funding to the voters this November.
If both are approved, the questions would help fund maintenance and improvements at the airport — and a South Bridge tunnel to keep the runway intact — to the tune of $8 million. While some improvements could be made if voters authorize the city to take on additional debt, but without funding through a mill levy, it’s unclear how the proposal might be pared down.
If both fail, that opens up a big debate on City Council about whether to keep the airport as is or to shorten the runway to help keep costs down for the upcoming South Bridge project.
South Bridge has already been approved by council, but whether or not it includes a tunnel, thereby keeping the airport runway, could greatly impact the future of aviation in Glenwood Springs.
Now, when the airport and South Bridge are weighed side by side, it’s hard to imagine that more people wouldn’t benefit from a South Bridge being built sooner rather than later. South Bridge would be an invaluable connector for the thousands of city and county residents who live in South Glenwood and along the 4 Mile Road corridor. The airport offers no commercial service but benefits the community by serving as a hub for emergency air service and its economic impact. At the same time, the airport is a cherished community resource for many within the local aviation community, some of whom talked about the importance of the airport in a story published in Friday’s Post Independent.
Voting in favor of both ballot questions is a way to ensure that South Bridge is built while also providing a previously unseen level of support for Glenwood Springs Airport. Voting against, on the other, will very likely be seen by some council members as a lack of support for the airport. In turn, this could very well be the end of the Glenwood Springs Airport as we know it. Not overnight, but in the years to come it would be very unlikely to remain in its current form.
What’s most unfortunate about this is the lack of clarity in the ballot questions. Council members could and should have been more direct about the intention of the vote. The muddied approach we’ve had will instead allow doubt to persist even after the vote. We wouldn’t be surprised if those doubts end up further kicking South Bridge, the most important infrastructure project for South Glenwood, years into the future. That would truly be an unnecessary shame.
The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Annie Bell and Amy Connerton.
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