Middleton airport master plan worries Morey Field neighbors

Middleton airport master plan worries Morey Field neighbors

Future plans for the airport in Middleton have people who live near there concerned.

They say the city is planning an expansion that could impact their lives and their property as part of a master plan exploration. Though it hasn’t been decided, the plan could indicate future desires to expand the runway from 4,000 feet to 5,000 feet and add additional hangar space.

Steve Ziegler lives next to Morey Field, and he has opposed airport expansion since the topic was last discussed in 1998. During that time, the city signed a resolution saying it would restrict the runway length to 4,000 feet.

“Everybody, myself and my neighbors … are really counting on that promise,” Ziegler said. “Because if it gets expanded to 5,000 or plus or whatever it might be, the runway would come directly at us.”

The city of Middleton is in the process of developing a master plan for the local airport. It has become a contentious topic for neighbors, as many worry this will lead to an expansion that could directly impact their properties. (A THREAD)

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) August 1, 2019

Airport manager Richard Morey said right now it’s too early to say whether any expansion would happen — the master plan lays out options, not guarantees.

The city said it is looking into requests it says it’s gotten for the master plan, and those requests would still require many additional steps on the local, state and federal levels to be implemented, even if they are included.

As part of the master plan exploration, the city administered a survey to existing airport users. Results show 93 percent of respondents do not find the current length of the runway to be a constraint to their operations. A survey of prospective users showed 51 percent found the length adequate.

“Be it 500 feet or 1,000 feet or no feet, we don’t have any idea,” Morey said.

Leslie Hayner, who runs the neighborhood group Middleton Area Good Neighbors to educate people on the master plan, has also been keeping watch on the process, and she said there is evidence to suggest the city and airport have been planning longer than they say.

In 2017, Middleton showed residents this potential plan for an expansion, which would push airport boundaries into private property. Residents nearby say this shows the city has been planning an expansion for some time, but the airport/city maintain nothing is set. pic.twitter.com/GwRhRaGHv4

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) August 1, 2019

“I think there are a number of data points there historically in the process that they’ve been ramping up for this for quite some time,” Hayner said. “And so that leads the citizenry to believe that maybe there’s a lack of transparency.”

She said the majority of the people she’s surveyed in her role with Middleton Area Good Neighbors don’t want the airport to change from how it is now, and she wants the city and airport to recognize that.

“No one wants to see the airport go away,” she said. “No one wants to see it negatively impacted, but we do feel that this airport is at a tipping point.”

Morey said he wants the airport to continue to be an asset in the community in which he grew up.

“I love the city,” he said. “I love the airport. I want it to be a good fit for the community.”

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