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City questions runway impact
Worthington News (SNP), September 15, 2004

Reprinted courtesy of The Worthington News/SNP (c) 2004.

By Scott Takac
Worthington News Reporter

Aligning a Don Scott runway expansion with Ohio State University's educational mission flew better on campus than it did in Worthington City Council chambers.

Bud Baeslack, dean of the university's department of engineering, delivered an abbreviated version of the environmental impact study results he presented Friday to the university's facilities planning committee.

A capacity crowd of about 70, including several standing in the doorway, joined council in listening Monday as Baeslack reported the expansion was integral to the university's educational mission and that there would be no noise or other significant impacts on Worthington.

Baeslack said expansion would enhance Ohio State's aviation education program and that any effects felt by the city would be positive, including significant economic benefits.

"My feeling is that ... it's going to provide the opportunity for much greater service, much greater safety for the users," Baeslack said.

Council member Bonnie Michael wanted to know why the results of the university's study showed no negative impacts, especially when she said there so many in the community against the expansion.

"I am very concerned about some of the analysis regarding your charts that talk about impacts," Michael said. "The city of Worthington has 200-year-old buildings that need to be considered."

Michael also talked about the social impacts of an expansion, including increased traffic on state Route 161, something she said would force modifications to the road.

"I would like to know about all of the impact that was not reported," she said. "I was very disappointed to see that it was not fully representative of everything that was out there. Shouldn't it also report that there's been a number of people who have had concerns?"

Baeslack, who has been dean of the department of engineering for about two months, deferred many council questions to an upcoming public meeting, and restated the importance of the expansion to the university's educational and outreach mission.

He said because many of the issues raised were new to him, he would have to do some research, and would have answers to all the questions at an upcoming meeting.

David Zoll, a Toledo attorney Worthington hired to handle airport expansion issues, said he had heard the same statement before. Zoll said the university did not furnish information it promised to supply after a meeting in June of a citizens advisory committee meeting.

He said the university failed to include community input when it conducted the environmental impact study; something he said it had promised to do.

"We've tried to be evaluative; we've tried to objective. ... Well, I'm no longer comfortable with the relationship and we're ready to move ahead," Zoll said as applause erupted from the public seating area.

Zoll told council members that his law firm would make recommendations on the expansion based on its own study and would come back with conclusions.

Zoll also questioned the validity of the university's impact study.

"They've used departure tracks and profiles that have some planes flying a lot higher than they do," Zoll said.

Council member Robert Chosy, acknowledging Baeslack's short tenure at Ohio State, said the new dean has an opportunity to change what amounts to the university repeatedly overlooking the concerns of Worthington residents.

"What I'd like to emphatically inform you of is that Ohio State has been destructive and non-forthcoming and many of us get the feeling that it's going to keep rolling on and they're going to do this no matter what," Chosy said.


Reprinted by permission.


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