Letter: Questions About Airport Project

To the Editor:

Do Lebanon taxpayers believe that the Lebanon Airport runway-expansion project makes sense? Or do they have concerns about the risks and financial commitments of the project? The project was recently renamed as the “Runway Safety Area Improvement.”

Among the project’s requirements:

∎ A payment by Lebanon of approximately $1 million to cover its share.

∎ Annual costs of potentially more than $150,000 to meet fire-protection requirements for larger aircraft.

∎ A 20-year commitment by the city to the federal government to keep the airport open, even if Cape Air were to leave, and even if the U.S. Congress were to cut back or eliminate the present annual funding of over $2 million for the airport.

∎ A payback to the federal government of as much as $37 million if Lebanon ceases airport operation for any reason during this 20-year period.

If the runway project is turned down, the airport will continue to function much as it has for many years, accommodating all of Cape Air’s planes, and most others. Is it reasonable to ask the vast majority of taxpayers who do not fly from Lebanon to support expanded services for the small percentage who do fly from Lebanon or have their own plane? Isn’t it enough that we continue to support that small number of people as we are now doing? Anyone could readily drive an hour to Manchester or Burlington to catch a flight.

The Lebanon City Council will be considering the airport proposal on Wednesday, Feb. 6, between 7 and 9 p.m.

Grace Ellis