Factoids

Monday, December 27, 2010

Down the Rabbit Hole

These comments were presented at the December 27th session of the Bastrop County Commissioners Court. FOX 7 News said they were going to be there but stood us up!! Maybe next time . . .

There’s a lot going on in Bastrop County these days and its becoming more and more surreal. It’s as though the County has fallen down the rabbit hole to another dimension where up is down, left is right and nothing is quite what is seems. Obviously we’re not in Mayberry anymore.

First we had the whole eco-merge, greeny goodness spin coming from Carpenter & Associates.

Now the County is trying it’s hand at the art of spin. Let’s take a look at the the newly penned ‘Mission, Values and Objectives’ statement that now graces the wall outside this courtroom. It’s right up there at the top of the the spin-o-meter chart. Just how do all those noble ideals line up with the reality of what’s gone on with regard to the Central Texas Airport? Let’s take a look.

The ‘MISSION’ statement opens with these words:

‘To promote the health, safety and welfare of our citizens . . .’ In light of the 381 Agreement with Carpenter & Associates for the Central Texas Airport, perhaps a better rendering would be ‘to promote the health, safety and welfare of our corporate financial partners’.

Then comes the treasure trove of spin titled ‘VALUES’:

‘ACCOUNTABILITY’ promises ‘. . . accepting responsibility for our actions . . .’ OK, Judge McDonald . . . if you practice what the Mission statement preaches, just when are we gonna have that public hearing?

‘STEWARDSHIP’ suggests ’striving to make the most efficient and effective use of our natural resources’. The focus on using rather than preserving is very telling and disturbing.

Onward to ‘COLLABORATION’, which’ extols ‘Actively seeking citizen participation . . .’ You have got to be kidding!! Not one ordinary taxpaying citizen was consulted or asked to participate in any part of the CTA approval process. Instead, this airport has been imposed on us unilaterally by this very Court via the 381 Agreement.

The ‘MISSION’ statement closes with a list of ‘PRIMARY OBJECTIVES’ which offers more unkept promises:

Just how does an airport located within a Wildlife Hazard Zone ‘Provide for the safety and security of our citizens’?

Just how do toxic chemicals, acres of tarmac, screaming jets, increased traffic, plummeting property values etc. ‘Protect the environment and our quality of life’?

The entire ‘Mission’ statement reeks of strategy from a corporate attorney or clever marketing consultant. Just who are you trying to convince? Well, we see right through all of it and we’re not buying what you’re selling. Actions do speak louder than words.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Decibels of Deception

In a March 25, 2009 email to members of the Commissioners Court, James Carpenter indicated that:

“The 65 DNL noise level is the level at which land use is considered potentially affected.” Reading further, Mr. Carpenter indicates that “the 60 DNL level is considered safe for all uses,” and that “only a small area is included just outside the property boundary.”

This is patently untrue because the “noise study” that Carpenter & Associates are trumpeting was done at the Wiley Post Airport outside of Oklahoma City. This airport has been in existence for over fifty-years and the study was done to facilitate an expansion of the airport, as was the Addison airport near Dallas. The 65 DNL is fast becoming obsolete and may be replaced with 60 DNL as uninhabitable, with 50-55 DNL as the new minimum standard for habitability of structures.

Land elevation or “topography” makes a large difference in sound levels, as it will near the Central Texas Airport. The Wiley Post airport is on flat ground, but the CTA lies in the basin of the Colorado River with surrounds averaging 150 feet higher than the runway. A 737 flying at 500 feet above ground level (AGL) produces 115 Db. of sound, while the same aircraft at 650 AGL produces less.

Background noise is also a factor in urban areas, as the higher the background noise, the less apparent difference between a noisy aircraft and the traffic and other background noise. In the suburban areas surrounding the CTA, the background noise levels are much less, so a multi-engine 737 flying at 150’ AGL will seem orders of magnitude louder than in an area with more population.

Mr. Carpenter also plans to change the DNL contours as he states in this same letter, “Our actual noise contours will ultimately be remapped once we have signed up our based aircraft and establish our operating requirements and rules for utilizing CTA runway and airport facilities.”

The recognized standard for aviation noise-level contours in the FAA’s Integrated Noise Modeling program which should be used on this site and should include a complete list of the largest cargo-aircraft that may utilize this facility, and the expected frequency of flights, which Mr. Carpenter has pegged at 250 per day.

Anything less is a deception.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Numbers Don’t Lie

The latest ‘nugget’ of information from the ‘Eco-Merge’ Central Texas Airport site is this bit of numerical numbskullery:

“As many as 250 aircraft are projected to be housed at CTA, but only a small percentage of those will be involved in daily takeoffs and landings. Eighty percent of daily air traffic will arrive from the more rural north, descending against the southern wind with the practical effect of minimizing noise. Takeoffs will quickly rise 1,000 feet or more before leaving GCC grounds and climb steadily from there.”

Let’s see now, the north end of the runway is less than one-half mile from FM 969, with existing homes and new home building going on about 100’ north of the Right-Of-Way of FM 969.

The south end of the runway is less than one-half mile from the Colorado River on whose banks are located the McKinney Roughs Nature Preserve and the Hyatt Regency recreational complex.

So, Mr. Carpenter is trying to tell us that a loaded 737 is going to take off and climb to 1000’ in 2500’?

That’s about a 22 degree rate of climb, and with the diverse performance envelopes of many types of aircraft, a COMPLETELY unsupportable claim.

Ever see any of those climb like that after a departure from ABIA going over Hwy 71?

I haven’t.

Remember, a 737 with Stage III engines will develop 115 dB of noise at 500’.

Now if you’ll notice ANOTHER antic with semantics which says that:

“As many as 250 aircraft are projected to be housed at CTA, but only a small percentage of those will be involved in daily takeoffs and landings.”

Did he say anything about large cargo-aircraft NOT housed at the CTA making up to 250 flights daily?

Nope.

Now that we’ve settled those bits of verbal sleights-of-hand, it’s time to address the FAA-mandated 3 degree approach slope for aircraft arrivals.

The MAXIMUM ALTITUDE for aircraft entering the five-mile approach-zone of either end of the runway is 1350’ above-ground-level (AGL).

Notice that I said MAXIMUM ALTITUDE.

They can be lower.

Much lower.

FAA rules mandate that aircraft only have to clear ground obstacles by 35’.

At the MAXIMUM approach altitudes, they’ll only be approximately 100’ AGL over many homes.

See a pattern here?

Numbers don’t lie.

I’ll leave it to the people of Bastrop County to figure out who is . . .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not a done deal!

When talking about the proposed Central Texas Airport, a common attitude is that “it’s a done deal”. Well, we don’t think so!

For starts, Carpenter & Associates doesn’t even own the land yet! The real estate is under contract but don’t assume it’s going to close. Currently, the developer is seeking investors which is a formidable challenge in this economy. No investors. No airport. It’s as simple as that.

In addition, there is a bit of backstory that might make investors wary. Remember the proposed Manor airport that fell apart when Robert Mueller moved to ABIA? Well, that was another one of Jim Carpenter’s grandiose plans and look what happened to that!

But don’t assume that because the Manor airport failed that this one is bound to fail too. That would be naive and very foolish because it seems this man is hell bent on building an airport.

Even if the money appears and the contracts close it’s still not a done deal. Final plans have not yet been submitted to Bastrop County for approval and those plans are going to be scrutinized very closely.

Although an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is not required because there is no federal funding involved, there is a very real possibility that at some point one will be ordered. Since the Colorado River and surrounding habitat will be severely impacted by this project it is only prudent to do so.

Two other studies should also be done. One to assess the impact of increased traffic on FM969 and FM1704 and another to determine a base noise level for the areas surrounding the airport.

Perhaps the Bastrop County Commissioners will step up, take responsibility for the deficiencies in the 381 Agreement that make this airport nightmare a very real possibility and put this project to rest. After all, their job should be to protect the citizens and resources of Bastrop county not to put them in harm’s way.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Runups & Runoffs

So ya’ll think that the roar of large low-flying aircraft going in and out of the CTA will be the only big noise issue that’s going to impact your quality of life?

Nope, not even close. There’ll be a LOT of noise generated on the ground between flights too!

The culprit is ’static testing’ which is just one of the servicing options that Carpenter & Associates is planning to offer at the proposed ‘Green’ Corporate Center complex. You see, when jet aircraft engines have completed their servicing, they need to be ‘runup’. During a ‘runup’ the aircraft is immobilized and the engines tested at various throttle settings. This is VERY noisy and sound will undoubtedly reverberate up and down the Colorado river corridor and beyond. Don’t you just love how neighborly and ‘Green’ that is?

Now, let’s get to sewage.

Carpenter & Associates estimates that at full capacity up to 43,000 people will be working at the ‘Green’ Corporate Center. Consider this . . . 43,000 people flushing a low flow toilet twice a day will produce 129,000 gallons of water and other ‘material’.

It’s gotta go somewhere. Just how will the ‘Green’ Corporate Center get rid of it?

As far as we know, the ‘Green’ Corporate Center has not filed for or been granted a permit for a wastewater treatment plant sited along the Colorado River.

So, there’s ONLY one option . . . evapotranspiration. Yikes! That’s a big word!!

Here’s how it’s usually accomplished. An on site facility would separate the solids from the liquid. Solids would likely be trucked out (making the pollution someone else’s problem). Then the remaining liquid would be treated with toxic and dangerous chlorine gas (which will have to be trucked in on FM 969 and stored on-site). The partially treated liquid would then be sprayed on open areas within the complex filling the air with a unique perfume.

This would go on regardless of the weather, 24/7/365, rain or shine. Problem is that sunlight is needed to kill the remaining pathogens in the partially treated liquid.

If the sun doesn’t shine and it rains, guess where the runoff of the contaminated liquid will go?

Yup. You guessed it. The Colorado River.

Isn’t being ‘Green’ the coolest thing?

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