GEE AND URSULA

Coalition rallies against proposed Pierce County airport site

Oct 18, 2022, 1:50 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2022, 12:05 pm
pierce county airport...
Eatonville, near where one of the proposed airports could be built (Photo from Flickr @msneaux)
(Photo from Flickr @msneaux)

More than 200 residents gathered to protest against the construction of a new airport in Pierce County.

This protest followed a community meeting Monday that focused on two potential sites for a new airport in Pierce County. Forecasts show potentially millions of passengers might not be accommodated at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport due to a lack of capacity by 2050.

“I have no clue who thought that this area of the foothills would be a great place to put in some runways, I thought that planes had to have a flat surface. So I don’t really know what their plan is there,” said Anneliese Feld, representing Coalition Against Graham and Eatonville-Roy Airports. “And let me tell you, right next to that pasture is a massive hill. There is no runway going in there. I don’t know how much Earth they plan on moving. But it’s not a logical choice, just for that reason alone.”

The pushback against a new airport in Pierce County has been consistent with its residents, as the Coalition Against Graham and Eatonville-Roy Airports has attracted nearly 3,000 members to join its social media page over the past week.

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Even Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier sent a joint letter to aviation officials last week to formally object to a new airport being constructed within the county. The letter was sent to the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission, which was created to address concerns regarding the state’s airport capacity.

Derek Young, Pierce County Council Chair, signed the letter alongside Dammeier.

“Although we’re just right outside of it, our plan with our land was to build a business on our land and to save enough space for our children to be able to build homes on it when they were older,” Feld said. “We’re only on 11 acres, which is not the biggest lot, but it’s not small either. And we could easily build homes for all of our children in the future when they wanted. But that obviously can’t happen if the airport comes.”

The concerns stretch beyond sharing part of the county with a new airport, as increases in traffic and noise pollution throughout the region, on top of the impact this venture would have on the area’s endangered animals, stand among the coalition’s biggest concerns.

Five species of butterflies, nine species of fish (including four different types of salmon), five species of amphibians, 11 species of birds, and two species of bats and rodents are just some of the animals under the endangered, threatened, sensitive, candidate, and monitor label in the county. Cascade red foxes, fishers, and wolverines could also be impacted by the construction of an airport, according to the Pierce County Wetlands and Fish & Wildlife Service.

“Anytime you come out to Pierce County and try and travel anywhere off the freeway, you are stuck in gridlock traffic,” Feld said. “There is zero infrastructure out here because we are unincorporated. I like to call this the dumping ground of Pierce County. When we had new homes that needed to be that were slated to be built in Pierce County, the majority of them got dumped out in our unincorporated area, because we didn’t have anyone sticking up for us. So we got all of these new homes, but we got no new infrastructure. ”

Feld even cited that the area only has two police officers patrolling the area as well, an area that stretches all the way to Elbe.

“I know a lot of people on our Facebook group are trying to make this a red vs. blue thing. But I want to make the point that our current representative in the second legislative district, one of which, Andrew Barcus, is on the transportation committee. They all voted for this. All Republicans. All Democrats. Even Inslee, they all supported this measure. Our local representative knew that this was happening for years.”

Feld ran for office four years ago, and is putting her name back in as a write-in for the second position for the state legislature this year.

“I don’t expect to win, but what I want to do is send the message,” Feld said. “If they do not start representing us, then we will get rid of them.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Coalition rallies against proposed Pierce County airport site