Route One Development and the CP Airport

This Op-Ed article was written by James Garvin, a College Park resident and user of the College Park Municipal Airport. The views expressed here don’t necessarily reflect the views of Rethink College Park. This article is in response to our recent post about the conflict between the airport and development in the Northgate area.

1909 Model A and derrick College ParkI am a city resident and user of the College Park airport. I live here because I wanted to move within walking of an airport where can fly. I come from a family with a heritage of flight and I am trying to pass that on with my household. College Park Airport is my home base. Please help keep the airport open. Now, new development on Route One is threatening our airport. Not only is the airport a unique part of College Park’s history, I believe it should be part of its future. Small aviators are part of the transportation system, and transportation based in small airports is more efficient than the large commercial airlines.

The University View building has greatly impacted my use of the airport. I don’t believe the County’s Airport use policies adequately protect the interests of users of small airports. The University View is serious factor to any approach to Runway 15 at College Park airport. It is a death knell to an airport to have large structures off the end of the runway for obvious reasons. One is bad, but more large structures will be a lot worse. Big buildings in walking distance of transportation facilities are great, and I want them too, but they should not be constructed at the business end of an airport runway.

1912 Wreck at College Park, MDPeople tend to confuse us middle class aviation users with upper class jet users. We are “little people” in College Park who have small aircraft we use on business trips and for personal transport when ever practical. We hate using airlines just as anyone else does. A small Cessna 172 going direct to the destination is much more convenient than riding a 727 with multiple layovers along the way. This efficiency also makes general aviation transportation greener than buying a ticket on the big airlines. However this always seems to be overlooked, and we are seen with the same “greenness” as filth belching 707’s — like lumping a Prius in with a Mack truck!

There is also the future to consider. Will new companies make it possible for small groups of people to go where they need to go inexpensively, efficiently, quietly, and with a small carbon footprint? Already the Florida-based Dayjet company provides on-demand flights in small aircraft to business travelers. Is it really efficient to fly 240 people from a place they don’t want to go (hub 1) to another place they don’t want to go (hub 2) because it’s better for the big airline? I’m sure in the future we will be flying more efficient, quieter, smaller, and higher tech aircraft that can utilize small airfields and don’t need big hub airports. Destroying small airports is like tearing up railroad track beds, once they are gone they can never come back to provide transport solutions for the future.

The onerous and confusing security measures adopted since 9/11 at College Park have also threatened our very survival as an airport. Although the fliers have come to terms with these unreasonable requirements and are rebuilding our vitality as an airport, now we face the challenge of new development.

In addition to the University View, the proposed Northgate and Hilton could further diminish the usability of the airport. I call upon all readers to continue to speak out to keep this vital part of College Park open.

4 thoughts on “Route One Development and the CP Airport”

  1. I too live within walking distance of the CP airport. Living on Radcliffe DR puts the airstrip practically in my backyard. I knew that when I moved in and fully support the airport. I’ve even spoken in support of the CP airport in meetings in the past. After 9/11 it was a few years before I heard planes again taking off and landing at the strip. Unfortunately now the majority of the traffic seems to be noisy helicopters.

    I can understand James concern about development that might hinder the use of the airport for personal aircraft, however I think the rule of the “needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” apply here.

    The inconvenience to a small and dwindling user base of pilots is nothing compared to the needs for a growing thriving college town. College Park is not the vast farmland it was when the Wright Brothers set up shop here.

    In addition I just don’t see how the environmental impact of a Cessna’s flying out of CP vs. 707’s to a hub compares to thousands of cars commuting to UMCP vs. walking to campus from University View.

    My only point is we can’t have everything and if sacrificing pilots ease of flying from CP airport is the price to pay I think the majority would be willing to pay it.

    -Clay Gump

  2. Clay – great post. it is refreshing to see this type of thinking. we need to encourage more of it when it comes to CP redevelopment discussions.

  3. If there was a way to compromise that would be great. I think being a town that has all modes of transportation sort of charming. I’m not sure how much wide the line-of-site planes need to land. I dunno. It is hard to have everything. I’m sure if that airport ever closed down, that land would quickly be grabbed for more development.

  4. I took flight lessons several years ago in less-restricted airspace, but I can’t claim to understand the issues here.

    I think the value in having a contributor who is a pilot from college park airport is not in stating a broad “general aviation is good” viewpoint, but in educating the rest of us *how* the hilton or northgate or east campus would interfere. When taking off on runway 33, what heading is safest? How long does it take to climb above university view? What are the common routes that pilots take so that they’re safe in case of engine failure? When landing on runway 15, do you follow the (undeveloped) stream? Or try to line up with the runway as far out as possible? Is there PAPI (the red and white lights that tell a pilot if he or she is too high or too low)?

    What are the questions people should be asking and where is the compromise?

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