Friday, November 12, 2010

Foes urge transparency

Airport foes urge more transparency
By Mike Blackwell
Bastrop Advertiser
November 11, 2010 |

Opponents of the Bastrop County 381 Agreement with the Central Texas Airport once again implored Bastrop County Commissioners Court to ensure transparency into the particulars of the agreement at the court’s regular meeting Monday.

Eleven people spoke at the meeting, with some requesting that the court divulge communication between the commissioners and Carpenter & Associates, the airport’s developers. According to the 381 Agreement, the airport will receive 75 percent of its property tax back (after the airport is built and the land’s value improves) for a period of 30 years, after which the county will receive 100 percent of the property tax.

Citizens were given three minutes to speak and County Judge Ronnie McDonald asked those in attendance to adhere to the three-minute rule and to also refrain from name-calling and to be respectful.

“You asked us to respect you,” said Bastrop County resident Wilfred Williams, alluding to McDonald’s comments. “What about you respecting us? I want to commend ya’ll. You’ve done an excellent job of not letting the public know what you are doing.”

Williams also requested copies of e-mail communications between the court and Carpenter & Associates.

“What is alarming is that I only received the e-mails from Carpenter & Associates and none of the emails that were sent from the judge’s office and the commissioner’s court,” Williams said.

Another Bastrop resident, Tom Placek, said the proposed airport would directly affect his family and gave a passionate testimonial that was followed by applause from some in the crowd.

“You’re looking at the first face that’s at the end of that runway,” Placek said. “My children keep asking me, ‘What are they doing, daddy?’ You people have to understand the impact of what you’re doing on the community. You need to get it. I’m upset and I’m angry. My valley, the valley that I love to see – rural Bastrop – is now being puked upon.”

Another citizen who lives in the flight zone of the planned airport, Shelley Cartier, said she didn’t believe the commissioners cared about the proposal’s potential hazards because, “None of you live in the areas that will be affected. I know that’s not your neighborhood, so you don’t care.”

Cartier also said she did not believe commissioners included citizen input when dealing with Carpenter & Associates.

“I’m right in the flight pattern of the airport,” Cartier said. “I don’t feel like we’ve been included in all of this.”

Tom Thompson said real estate in the area of the proposed airport has already suffered and will continue to suffer. He also requested the court hold public meetings pertaining to the Airport Compatibility Zone, the area surrounding the airport, which includes several subdivisions.

Ruth Thompson told the court that she was concerned about the tax ramifications of the project on Bastrop County residents and also lamented the court’s “lack of concern” for Bastrop County residents.

“I don’t know how many people must line up before you, voicing their concerns, before you begin to really listen,” Ruth Thompson said. “I suspect that more than one of you realizes now that signing the 381 Agreement with Carpenter & Associates was a mistake. Perhaps you were misinformed and misled by those upon whose counsel you relied. I don’t need an admission of the mistake. I only need to hear that you intend to use the power I know you have to fix it. But yet you haven’t even called a public meeting, which has been requested endless times. I ask you to stop the madness. Let’s work together to find a way out of this mess.”

McDonald reminded those in attendance – prior to the citizens’ comments – that the commission was not allowed to respond to any comments.

Candace Boheme, who spoke at the previous commissioner’s court meeting in October, ended her comments by saying, “We’re your partners, we’re not the enemy.”


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