Reprinted courtesy of The Worthington News/SNP (c) 2004.
by Scott Takac
Ohio State University's dean of the college of engineering said OSU wants to keep community members involved in plans for a north runway expansion at Don Scott Airport.
The expansion has generated controversy, particularly in Worthington, out of fears of increased noise, a potential decrease in property values and concerns over quality-of-life issues.
"The goal here is to be inclusive," said Dean Bud Baeslack to a crowd of about 80 at a public workshop Thursday on the proposed expansion.
Baeslack referred to a meeting earlier in the day of the Don Scott Advisory Committee, which included civic leaders, industry experts and university officials, as an example of including the community.
"I think if you saw the membership of that committee, you'd understand that that's the case."
Worthington City Manager David Elder and council member Lou Briggs as well as Riverlea Mayor Mary Jo Cusack and Perry Township Trustee Robert Myers sit on the advisory committee.
Baeslack said the workshop, held at Daniel Wright Elementary School across from the airport, was not required by the Federal Aviation Administration but was scheduled by the university in a spirit of openness. He said another public meeting will be required by the FAA as the process moves forward.
"I think another misconception is that this is that formal meeting," Baeslack said. "This is not required. We're looking at this in a very serious, rigorous way."
Baeslack, who presented a shortened version of the findings of the university's preliminary environmental assessment, acknowledged some criticisms of the study by David Zoll, an attorney hired by Worthington to address the expansion.
"Our goal is to be open and interact with you in a very positive way," Baeslack said. "I think, as many of you are aware, the Worthington consultants have presented a list of issues they have. They were discussed with our consultants. We will encourage continued discourse with these folks."
During the public participation of the workshop -- in which audience members asked questions of university representatives -- there was no shortage of input, and Baeslack allowed the session to go past the allotted time.
But at least one opponent was not hopeful.
"We have for 20 years done battle with Ohio State over the airport," Cusack said to Baeslack. "You haven't cooperated. It continues with absolutely no promise of letting up."
Cusack called on Baeslack to bring the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Committee into the process and said the university should perform a more detailed environmental impact study whether the FAA requires it or not.
"I don't know what the past was here," said Baeslack, who has been dean for about three months. "We have been, I think, very responsive in the last few months in particular. That's my plan -- my integrity's one the line here also."
In response to a question on the validity of inputs used in the OSU noise model, Bill Albee of Wyle Laboratories -- the company hired to perform the noise portion of the environmental assessment -- defended the study.
"The courts will upload that this is the best available science, " Albee said. "It's an annual average based on an estimate in a future year. It's the beast we can do."
"A lot of lawyers have taken the FAA to court and they lose every time," Albee said.
Read more Central Ohio Community News at the Suburban News Publications Web site, SNPonline.com
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