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Debate Continues Over Airport Expansion
The Worthington News, September 28, 2005

By JACK SOWERS
Reprinted courtesy of The Worthington News/SNP 2005

The Ohio State University Board of Trustees\' Fiscal Affairs Committee assured those who attended its Sept. 23 meeting on possible plans to expand Don Scott Airfield that inclusion of a memo item in the capital improvement plan did not constitute approval of it.

William J. Shkurti, OSU\'s senior vice president for business and finance, called the memo item a \"placeholder so the committee can plan for the future.\"

The item only calls for \"updating the recommendation on the Airport Master Plan\" within the context of the university\'s capital plan for fiscal years 2007 through 2012, he said.

\"No specific construction can proceed without specific approval from the board of trustees,\" said Shkurti.

Dennis Hennen, president of We Oppose Ohio State (airport) Expansion (WOOSE), addressed the committee before it discussed the memo item\'s inclusion in the 2007-12 capital plan.

He implored the committee to table the item and refrain from considering future changes at the airfield until the university assesses the effect of new equipment designed to respond more quickly to the numerous noise complaints levied by residents in neighborhoods near the airport.

Last month, William \"Bud\" Baeslack, dean of OSU\'s College of Engineering, stated at an open forum that the airfield will add a radar receiver and data-collection system at an estimated cost of $300,000 to improve response time to future noise complaints.

Hennen said he doesn\'t want the OSU Board of Trustees to consider future expansion issues pertaining to the airport until residents in the neighborhood have the opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of the new equipment.

\"It is premature to be considering plans for the airport that will increase the noise impacts,\" Hennen told the committee. \"We have only just begun to address the current issues, and the solutions we find may radically change the plans for the future.\"

Despite assurance that the OSU Board of Trustees must approve any new action relating to the airfield, Hennen said he thinks the fiscal committee considers eventual expansion at Don Scott to be a foregone conclusion.

\"It wasn\'t an approval of the expansion process, but it is part of their plan,\" Hennen said. \"To me, the definition of a plan is an intention of doing something. You don\'t put something in a plan if it\'s something you don\'t want to do.\"

In July, Baeslack told Worthington City Council that OSU officials have elected to postpone development projects such as an extension of the airfield\'s north runway and jet hangars for at least two years while airfield officials consider potential noise impact.

Baeslack told audience members at the open forum last month that two advisory committees will be formed to discuss the possible expansion.

Those committees will include residents of the surrounding neighborhoods, members of civic groups including WOOSE, airport users and university administrators.

Baeslack has not yet named the members of the advisory committee or planned future meetings.


Read more Central Ohio Community News at the Suburban News Publications Web site, SNPonline.com.

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