Waukesha mayor opposes airport expansion

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Lombardi advocates that the airport instead move out of the city to another location in the county.
"Expansion of the Waukesha County Airport would have a devastating effect on Waukesha city," Lombardi said.
Lombardi said her opposition was rooted in concerns for the city’s tax base and the desirability of residential property.
Lombardi also is concerned about the future of businesses adjacent to Silvernail Road and Pewaukee Road, both of which would have to be moved or tunneled to accommodate federal regulations.
"There has been a ribbon-cutting of a new business," Lombardi said, referring to the grand opening of a funeral home on Pewaukee Road. A veterinary clinic also has recently opened on Pewaukee Road, she said.
"All of those properties would have to be relocated. And they would not relocate in Waukesha city because we don’t have a lot of land available. This property would be taken off the tax rolls," she said.
Reduced revenue
The City of Waukesha, as the seat of county government, has 800 parcels that are tax-exempt.
"We are truly being asked to place on our city budget costs and expenses to provide city services while having our revenue reduced," she said.
However, according to Tom Schnetzer, project manager with Mead & Hunt, compliance with the runway safety area regulations would not involve relocating any businesses.
"I don’t think the runway safety project affects any businesses," Schnetzer said. "First, they are going to do a traffic study on Silvernail Road to see what the options are. From what I recall, there was not the need to acquire any properties. And on the east side, there are no businesses directly off the runway. The only complicating factor is the roads themselves and what you have to do to move them out of the runway safety area."
Schnetzer acknowledged that other projects mentioned in the airport’s long-range plan would involve purchasing more property, but none of those projects would likely be needed in the foreseeable future.
"The plan that was adopted by the county board – it is a long-range plan," Schnetzer said. "It shows a number of improvements that will be important for the next 20 years. The whole notion of making the runway longer was yet to be justified. The most important thing in the plan – the immediate project – was the runway safety project, and those are all justified. I know that the airport is interested in buying some land for future purposes, but I don’t think any of it affects the immediate projects."
Changes would ‘disrupt’
Lombardi also is concerned for recent infrastructure improvements made to roadways that would be significantly affected by airport-related projects.
"When you look at the long-range plan that is put together – you will see they will be disrupting the Silvernail Road and Grandview Boulevard area," Lombardi said.
The airport’s master plan mentions the possibility of closing Silvernail Road.
Lombardi said users of the airport, including GE Medical Systems, one of the county’s largest employers, have not expressed a need for an expanded airport.
However, unless roads are moved out of the path of the runway, in time, the airstrip would have to be reduced in length, making it unusable by GE Medical Systems’ jet aircraft.
"I represent city government," Lombardi said. "I have no expertise of what federal regulations are. But anything that is going to be done at the Waukesha County Airport that involves expanded-size aircraft is going to disrupt the nature of this community."
Other airports serving southeastern Wisconsin could easily take on the traffic currently at Crites Field, according to Lombardi.
"I did make the comment to members of the county board that perhaps it is time to look somewhere else in the county to come up with a piece of property that would meet the airport’s needs. Of course that was brushed off with a snide look," Lombardi said. "We have (airports in) Milwaukee. We have Madison. There is limited land mass for any kind of expansion. It just would not have a positive effect on Waukesha city."

Oct. 25, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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