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.
I 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.
People 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.