The City Council voted late Tuesday night to leave the Georgetown airport at its current location.
A leader of a group called Airport Concerned Citizens had asked for the city to hold a series of public meetings to find out if residents wanted to keep operating the airport at its current location or move it.
“The problem is that the airport is in the center of our developing city,” said Hugh Norris. He asked the council to delay spending any money on capital improvements at the airport.
Another group member, Sharon Barber, said she was concerned the airport would expand, bringing bigger jets and more noise to the surrounding neighborhoods.
The City Council referred the airport issue to the Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board in January after the citizens group expressed concerns about it. The board recommended this month that the airport should not be moved.
Ed Polasek, the director of transportation for the city of Georgetown, said the citizens group has the wrong idea about what’s happening at the airport. The city is spending $328,000 on maintenance improvements required by the FAA, he said, including improved lighting for the runway, designing new fuel tanks and a parallel taxiway for planes waiting in line to take off.
“We aren’t expanding, we aren’t adding runways, we’re not increasing jet traffic,” he said. “We’re just doing maintenance.”
Polasek said the airport’s 5,000-foot runway would limit any large commercial jets from coming to Georgetown. “Their concern is all smoke and mirrors,” he said. “They just want the airport closed because it will help their property values.”
The 640-acre airport, at 500 Terminal Drive, was built in 1943 and has been in city hands since 1945. Polasek said that if the airport were to relocate, it would cost $30 million to $50 million just to pay off the federal government for federal money invested in it. He said he also wasn’t sure whether the city would be able to sell the land where the airport is because it is unclear from the property deed who owns it – the city or the federal government.
Closing the airport would require the approval of the FAA and the Texas Department of Transportation, Polasek said.