Friday, December 23, 2011

Time to wake up

These days only a handful people in Bastrop county have a clue about what’s happening with the proposed Central Texas Airport. The issue seems to have disappeared from our collective consciousness and life has gone on for most everyone. That complacency and denial could come to haunt us.

Some comments that have recently come our way illustrate just how woefully uninformed the public is.

One rumor floating around is that if the developer doesn’t meet an end-of the-year deadline, the project would lose funding. NOT TRUE! The first deadline isn’t until June 30, 2012 seven months from now. The specific requirements that the developer must meet can be found in “Section 9 Company Performance” of the 381 Agreement.

Another rumor is that the US Army Corps of Engineers has granted the permit for work on the airport. WRONG AGAIN! The Corps has requested and is awaiting additional information from the developer based on the comments submitted during the Public Comment period which ended May 9 and and an “Environmental Information Document” submitted by the developer in August. After the requested information is received and processed, the Corps may even hold a public hearing before making a final decision.

Then there is the more general consensus that the airport annoyance has just faded away. This conclusion is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Just because it’s not in the news, does not mean it’s not inching forward.

It’s time to wake up, folks. Unless of course, the prospect of 737s rumbling overhead and chemicals polluting the Colorado River seems like a welcome addition to the ambiance of our county.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

For the birds

A few days ago, this LTE titled ‘Eagles at airport site’ appeared in the Austin American Statesman:

I own property on the south side of the Colorado River across from the site to the proposed Central Texas Airport in Bastrop County. I have observed and photographed both mature and juvenile bald eagles flying and roosting in the area of the planned take-off and landing patterns for the proposed airport. I hope that Bastrop County officials will withdraw their support of this airport for the preservation of these bald eagles and other wildlife that inhabit this area.

Margaret Maguire
San Antonio

Eagles are a noble and beloved bird but it’s going to take more than sentimental, well-intentioned concerns like Ms. Maguire’s to put the brakes on this project. Forget the Feds as Bald Eagles are no longer on the Endangered Species List. And forget County officials as they inked a 381 (Economic Development) Agreement well over a year ago that legally obligates them to support the project.

Those of us who have taken the time to read the 381 Agreement are well aware of the County’s obligations. Here is a pertinent excerpt from Section 10 titled ‘Mutual Assistance: County Cooperation and Assistance’ (discussed in more detail here):

“. . .to cooperate with and assist Company in any Company application to an Infrastructure Agency, for such approvals, consents or permits and any regulatory, financial or other forms of assistance as shall be deemed reasonable, necessary or appropriate for the planning, design, acquisition, development, construction, equipment, operation and financing of the Project.”

Knowledge is power. This site offers a formidable collection of documents that just might hold the key to getting the job done. Start reading folks . . .

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What’s up with Elgin?

Well, with regard to the CTA . . . not much even though the ubiquitous assumption is that Elgin supports the project.

Recent conversations with the Mayor of Elgin, the Elgin City Manager and the Elgin EDC have completely debunked that assumption. In fact, not one of these entities has taken an official position despite the fact that information regarding the project can be found on their respective websites.

There has also been very little ‘official’ communication between Elgin and the Carpenter organization. A recent Open Records Request (ORR) to the City of Elgin garnered only 47 pages. The Perryman Group’s infamous report “The Sky’s the limit!” extolling the economic benefits of the CTA squandered 38 pages, the bulk of the offering.

Only two documents - an email and attachment sent to the City Manager, Greg Vick - are of interest. The email is a rather desperate plea to the City of Elgin to send supportive comments to the USACE regarding the permit application for work on the CTA. The date of the email is April 19, 2011 just a few days before the original April 25 deadline for submission of comments.

The attachment is another pitch for support that was originally sent to ’supporters’ of the CTA on March 24, 2011, the day before the Public Notice was posted by the USACE. The FOIA to the USACE for the submitted public comments had provided the first page of this document which we now know consisted of three pages in its entirety.

Mr. Carpenter’s best efforts to drum up support were ignored by the City of Elgin and it seems most everyone else as only two favorable comments were ultimately submitted to the USACE.

BISD not totally MIA

BISD’s silence regarding the proposed Central Texas Airport has been rather puzzling. It’s not for lack of information. Last spring, StopCTA flyered several BISD meetings. Facts about the proposed project - including the observation that the new Cedar Creek High School is located directly at the end of the runway - were presented to Board Members, parents and other concerned citizens.

But the silence has continued.

Then we discovered that at least one lone voice at BISD has raised concerns about the effects the airport might have. A letter was written to the FAA by BISD Superintendent Steve Murray in March of 2010. As indicated in the letter, Mr. Murray was Deputy Superintendent of Del Valle ISD during the transition from Robert Mueller to ABIA so is aware of the problems that airplanes could bring to the Cedar Creek High School.

We have not yet seen the FAA’s response but understand it side-stepped the concerns presented.

Now if only the School Board would wake up and smell the jet fuel.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vampire tales

October 31 seems like a fitting time to ponder the future of StopCTA. The recent events have understandably impacted the momentum that we had been gaining over the last year. We were hoping to carry on but in fact circumstances have drained the life-blood out of our efforts and brought things pretty much to a screeching halt.

The county and many of its residents will be occupied with recovery and putting their lives together for months if not years to come. Then there is the approach of the holiday season madness. On top of that there are the usual obstacles always vying for attention - family, work and other ‘important’ pursuits. No one seems to have the time, focus or commitment to carry on. It sucks . . .

It’s anyone’s guess when or if a transfusion will arrive. The good news is that the site with its abundant resources will still be available. Perhaps someone will wander in, get inspired and donate a pint or two to resuscitate our efforts and get things going again.

Until then . . . over and out.

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