Thursday, June 17, 2010
Some Southeast Sedgwick County residents aren't happy about a proposed plan to close off one of their county roads. The owners of Cook Airfield are planning a runway expansion, but in order to expand the runway, they say they'll need to close a portion of 71st Street South.
Although it's not paved, nearby residents say the section of 71st Street is vital to them. Not only will it affect them, they say it will cut off future development years down the road.
"It will make it a safer airport for the community and we're trying to be a community airport," said Cook Airfield Co-Owner Steve Logue.
The airport's 2,500 foot runway can only handle single engine prop planes. However, they want to expand the runway another 1,000 feet and close off 71st Street just west of 143rd Street East. Some nearby residents don't like the idea, saying it will bring more noise and more potential for accidents.
"These guys have big dreams and that's great," said Bradley Moore, who opposes the plan. "But those dreams don't include me and many others that I've spoken to."
The airfield currently has nine residential lots with airplane hangars. The current plan for an expanded runway across 71st Street also includes 18 more residential lots and Logue says that will add to Sedgwick County's tax roll.
"Some of these people didn't even live in Sedgwick County and moved to Sedgwick County to get close to their airplane, which generates tax dollars for the county."
Another concern is emergency response times. Ambulances and fire trucks would no longer be able to use 71st Street, either. The delay around the area would potentially be three-to-five minutes if the road is closed.
"We recognize and support economic growth," said Sedgwick County Fire Division Chief Walter Rooney. "However, in this case we are very concerned the effect this closure will have on the ability of emergency response agencies to provide services within a safe and timely manner."
The planning commission put it's blessing on the closure, but only after intense debate. The final vote was 7-to-4 in favor of approving the closure. The idea now goes to the Sedgwick County Commission for a final decision. That could come within the next two weeks.