The recent comments endorsing the F-35 mission from the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board (April 9) provided an incomplete overview of the situation.
The fact is that the F-35 would be the loudest plane at takeoff than any other ever stationed at Gowen Field. This is confirmed by the F-35 Training Base Environmental Impact Statement. The Editorial Board acknowledges this fact but states that it can be addressed “after” Boise has been chosen. This is short-sighted and frankly too late, as communities like Burlington, Vt., have come to realize all too well.
The board talks about mitigation efforts such as flying techniques, the purchase of affected homes, and a third runway. Although flying techniques can lessen some impact, a good portion of the city’s core will be affected by a much larger noise footprint than it has ever faced. There is no guarantee that our friends and neighbors who would be most affected will get their homes purchased, let alone at a fair market value. A third runway would help somewhat, but the noise would still affect a substantial number of persons. And the city would have little incentive to invest in such a solution if Boise has already been chosen.
A forward-thinking local government would be proactive in addressing these issues. Instead of waiting to be selected and spending money on unnecessary PR consulting fees, they would look to build proper facilities that would be good for the city and an attractive choice. Southern states often build well-planned infrastructure sites for manufacturers such as auto plants to get opportunities for their local economy. Progressive state and local governments in Idaho should work together with necessary parties to get a smart and permanent runway solution, such as at the Orchard Combat Training Center. That would be enticing to any air mission now and well into the future. Build it right and they will come.
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I was born in Boise and have lived on the Bench for most of my life. I like the relationship between the Treasure Valley and the Idaho Air National Guard. I support our armed forces. But as with any relationship, you must share your concerns when something doesn’t seem to add up. Our valley is regularly ranked as a top livable city in the country, which helps bring new business, people and ideas to help its growth continue. The relatively low cost of living, great outdoor access and calm we enjoy you will not find in other cities. My fear is that the F-35 mission will destroy what is unique about Boise, inhibit future economic opportunities and degrade our current quality of life. Let’s work to get an Air Guard mission that works for everyone.
John Hormaechea is director of Product Marketing at an analytic software company and Boise Bench native.