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Airport provides too many benefits to close

Letter to the Editor
Published October 6, 2003

Re: Noise from airport is in the ear of the beholder, Diane Steinle column, Sept. 28, and Airport racks its neighbors' ears only sometimes, letter by Thomas Tripp, Sept. 30.

The debate about the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport continues, as does the passion of those opposing it. Why do I feel that I need to use sarcasm in my replies to people complaining? Perhaps it stems from having lived in this area a long time.

Most of the noise seems to come from the Feather Sound area. I mean people noise, not airplane noise. I can remember when that area was largely wetlands. I also remember that the Clearwater airport had been operational for almost 30 years before those homes were built.

Pardon me if I regard the complaints with some disdain. If one were so upset by airplane noise, a reasonably intelligent person would not buy a house under the flight path to a major airport.

It seems that the core argument, which has been deceitfully denied, is the desire to close the airport completely. This is not well thought through. If we close the airport, there is no other place we can move the U.S. Coast Guard air station. We would be losing search and rescue facilities. Most likely, this would mean that any rescue would be almost two hours away.

I wonder if letter-writer Thomas Tripp would like to think about why those Army helicopters are there at the Clearwater airport. Maybe he forgets the events of 9/11. Sir, they are there to protect you, as is the Coast Guard. Did the world change suddenly last week?

The Clearwater airport forces air travel to the Tampa area to be more affordable. As was pointed out, it produces income for the county and helps keep our property taxes down.

Yes, airplanes can be noisy. Would we really like to live without them? For those so quick to point to the alternative airport in Tampa, I think it would be helpful to realize that there are many more people who complain about the noise from TIA than complain about the Clearwater airport noise. Should we close both airports then?

What this issue proves is just how selfish the "Me generation" can be. I think the people with the loud complaints should make up the shortfall we all would have to make up. Without all the harassment from a small number of people, the Clearwater airport would still be the primary airport in the Tampa Bay area, and if you people would shut up for a minute, you might soon be able to fly to your hometown in Saginaw from Clearwater again.

The County Commission should try to remember that the small, loud and discourteous mobs from Feather Sound and Safety Harbor represent about 1 percent of the county's population, that most of us do not agree with their selfish position, and that we would like to see our airport improved to be a real airport again. Please put Clearwater back on the map for the rest of us.

Kenneth Pangborn, Palm Harbor

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