Tuesday, December 28, 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.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Plane meets wildlife

There is a reason the FAA recommends a separation between wildlife habitat and aircraft.



Click for larger image

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wheatsville Breeze

This month’s Wheatsville Breeze just arrived. Wheatsville is Austin’s and Texas’ only food co-op with deep roots in community activism. Currently, Wheatsville has over 10,000 members.


Click for larger image

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Airport faces headwinds

Proposed airport faces some headwinds
By Asher Price
Austin American Statesman
October 31, 2010

A piece of land that one day might day serve as an ambitious airport and business complex west of Bastrop is today a collection of pretty fields with hay rolls and oak trees sloping toward the Colorado River. Across the street sits a small church, and trucks rumble by on a two-lane farm-to-market road.

Whether the airport plan, floated by longtime Central Texas developer Jim Carpenter, will come to fruition remains an open question: The land has not actually been purchased by Carpenter, who has had some big deals fizzle out and lacks the support of some key economic players.

But the mere idea of an airport on this land sums up the changes in this fast-growing county, where rural living has given way to suburban development.

[Read More…]

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