Resolution supporting F-35 fighter jets heads to Assembly; neighbors cite noise concerns

The state Senate has passed a resolution supporting new F-35 fighter jets at Madison’s Truax Field, angering some north side leaders who oppose bringing the jets to the area.

Truax Field is one of the sites the U.S. Department of Defense is considering to house two squadrons of the state-of-the-art fighter jets.

“As elected officials, it is our responsibility to show our support for those men and women and that we want the F-35. We want them to fly that aircraft,” said one of the resolution’s sponsors, Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc.

Kurtz crafted a resolution supporting the F-35s with state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. The resolution, which has the support of a few Democrats, says the jets could help keep the base open and preserve its economic impact.

But Abha Thakkar, executive director of the Northside Planning Council, said she feels that the neighborhood surrounding the field is being left out of the conversation at the state Capitol.

“I’m deeply disappointed and honestly pretty furious about (the resolution). Here you’re talking about legislators that don’t represent these residents who live around here, who’ve never spoken to anyone in our community,” Thakkar said.

An environmental impact statement says noise from the jets would render hundreds of homes uninhabitable.

Thakkar said the potential housing impacts on a community that already faces a housing shortage are what sealed the deal on her opposition to the jets.

“This is going to do far more harm than good and, of course, the people whose homes are going to be affected are mostly low-income people of color. So, once again, it looks to me like an instance of institutional racism,” she said.

The Senate debated the resolution on Tuesday. State Sens. Fred Risser and Jon Erpenbach, from Madison and West Point, respectively, tried to amend the resolution to ask the U.S. Air Force to continue studying the jets’ environmental and health impacts but the attempt failed and the body ultimately passed the resolution on a voice vote.

The Assembly is expected to vote on the resolution Thursday.

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