It is no coincidence that the five Kalispell city councilors – Jim Atkinson, Randy Kenyon, Jeff Zauner, Kari Gabriel and Wayne Saverud – who voted to cancel a referendum on the future of the City Airport, are the same five who defeated a motion to maintain the airport as it is and who voted instead to authorize an expansion that they hope will be partly financed by federal funds. Airport boosters fear, probably correctly, that they would lose a popular vote and therefore fought doggedly to derail it.
Nevertheless citizens of Kalispell should weigh in on this important issue and should demand an opportunity to do so by signing petitions to put it on the ballot in November 2013, when the mayor and several city councilor are also up reelection.
The people need to be heard because the proposed airport expansion subjects the city and its taxpayers to very significant financial risks. The city must acquire land for the expansion and dismantle the radio towers before it can apply for federal funding, and those funds may not materialize, as this city of only 20,000 people already has a much larger, better located and managed, federally subsidized airport barely 10 miles away. If we obtain federal funding for the expansion, we shall be required to accommodate larger, noisier aircraft flying low over our city.
When I canvassed my neighbors, a sizeable majority opposed saddling the city with the potential consequences of the expansion plan. A 5-to-4 majority of our city council believes we should not vote on it. But a one-vote council majority should not be permitted to decide this issue. We, the people, demand a say! Please sign the petition.
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