By Dean Narciso
Reprinted by Permission
The Worthington City Council voted last night to pay its aviation consultants an additional $40,000 to scrutinize Ohio State University's study of the proposed lengthening of a runway at Don Scott Field.
The vote wasn't expected last night, but David Zoll, Worthington's legal consultant, told council members that waiting until the Oct. 4 meeting to vote would not allow time to analyze data collected by OSU's consultants, DLZ and Wyle Labs, before a mid-October Airport Advisory Committee meeting.
So the council took an emergency vote, meaning the legislation goes into effect immediately.
The airport study, released in June, showed that average airplane noise readings are less than 65 decibels, the maximum considered acceptable by the Federal Aviation Administration to undertake such projects.
Residents have objected to the way the noise level is averaged and said that equipment malfunctioned during the 24-hour readings.
Council President Louis Goorey cautioned that although the emergency decision eliminates the opportunity for citizen referendums on the matter, "I think it's the will of the folks we've heard from.''
About 15 residents, some of whom gave emotional appeals, applauded the decision.
Council members were surprised to learn that the OSU Board of Trustees would be briefed Wednesday morning about the airport project.
"I'm getting very concerned that it's getting too late for us to do anything,'' said Worthington resident Vera Tedrick. "I don't think you understand the gravity of this.''
Some Worthington residents live in the flight path of planes that use Don Scott Field, on the Northwest Side. They worry that the airport project will make noise much louder.
Councilwoman Lou Briggs urged her colleagues to gather documentation and present it to the OSU trustees before their meeting.
As part of their master plan, OSU officials have said the airport's north runway should be doubled in length and additional hangars be installed for growth and safety reasons.
Critics have said the airport has evolved from a small teaching airport into a corporate jet center. They have accused OSU of being secretive and evasive about the project.
"I wonder if they're hearing what the public wants, or if someone just wants to pull the jet thruster and go,'' Councilwoman Bonnie Michael said.
Dawn Tyler Lee, OSU assistant vice president for government and community relations, said she would be available at future meetings.
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