[Updated: December 15, 2021]
The First PAC meeting which kicked off the public phase of the new master planning process for the Aurora Airport was held on Nov. 16 via Zoom.
The majority of the meeting was comprised of presentations by the facilitator from JLA Communications (Brandy Steffen) and the lead consultant from Century West Engineering (David Miller) outlining the master plan process and how the PAC meetings would be conducted.
A substantial amount of time was spent on the decision-making process for the master plan and the roles and responsibilities of the PAC. Specifically, what had been previously sent to PAC members by email was detailed in the presentation, focused on two points described in a prior post:
- Members will provide input at key decision points in an advisory level; as a sounding board.
- No recommendations will be made by the committee; the group will be asked for feedback through poll questions and break out room discussions.
While the facilitator said that the opinion of PAC members would become part of the meeting record (meaning it would be part of the audio file of the meeting), it was made painfully clear that “ODA staff will be the final decision-making authority. They will decide what is included in the Master Plan.”
A period of comment from PAC members included residents and land use organizations raising questions about not being heard and about a broken public process at the outset, while aviation interests continued to talk about the need to expand the airport to enhance safety.
A period for public comment elicited remarks from the few members of the public that attended, all around subject of the current impacts of airport growth and the potential negative impacts of airport expansion on quality of life and property values.
Conclusion? The ODA hasn’t learned from their last master planning process and the subsequent years of dispute and legal suits. This master planning process has started much like the one in 2009 with a broken public process. If anything, the pandemic requirements of holding public meetings by Zoom allows ODA and their facilitators to even more closely control the content and tone of the meetings—all to achieve the appearance of public process while moving forward with their agenda.
You can download a copy of the Wilsonville Spokesman article about the meeting here.
In response to the content and methods on display at the first PAC meeting, on Dec. 13 the mayors of Wilsonville and Aurora sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown decrying a master planning process that “appears to be discounting our concerns and is primarily responsive to vested financial interest at the airport.”
Mayors Julie Fitzgerald and Brian Asher point out that the first PAC meeting was structured in a manner that excluded Alternative Members from participating and that “ODA “is again making similar mistakes as it did with the 2011 or 2012 Aurora State Airport Master Plan process…”
They go on to “request that the Governor’s Office demonstrate decisive leadership that provides confidence to local-government officials that federal and state planning processes are conducted in a legal and ethical manner above reproach, which at this time appears questionable.”
Download the joint Mayor’s letter here.