|GSI Works to Protect Fairchild AFB|
Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) held a press conference today to address a proposed mixed-use development on the West Plains that we believe encroaches upon Fairchild Air Force Base.
GSI is against the proposed development, not the proponents of the project. We are always working to protect Fairchild and believe this proposal directly impacts the mission of the base.
"This is the worst possible site for this type of development," said Greg Bever, Chair of Forward Fairchild, a committee that works to protect and defend Fairchild Air Force Base. "It's encroachment at its very worst and it directly impacts the current flying mission."
As we continue to study the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), our preliminary opinion is that it falls short in taking into consideration the effects the project would have on Fairchild. The proposed development falls within Military Influence Area (MIA) 3/4 of the Joint Land Us Study (JLUS), which precludes sensitive uses such as hotels, child care centers, hospitals, public assembly facilities, and more. Based on these criteria, the project should not be approved.
The base sees approximately 2,000 flights per month (see flight lines below), and current flight patterns fly directly above the proposed development site. This presents noise and safety issues with planes flying approximately 500 feet above the development site. Altering flight patterns to accommodate developments outside the base affects the amount and times of flights, the amount of fuel used, and the expense to fly those training missions.
"Air space is a precious commodity, which is being encroached upon," said Major General Paul Fletcher (Retired), a former Wing Commander at Little Rock Air Force Base. "The proposed development lies directly in the flight path at Fairchild."
Ken Small was the Air Force leader during the 2005 Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) process, when Fairchild survived a round of base closures. Small said encroachment is becoming more and more of an issue, especially with the Department of Defense announcing a reduction of bases of 30 -35 percent in the next five years.
"The Air Force is looking twenty years into the future, not just the immediate future, and that is how we need to make our decision," said Fred Zitterkopf, a former civil engineer at Fairchild and current member of Forward Fairchild.
As an economic development organization, our first job is to protect the jobs we already have. Fairchild employs more than 5,700 people and is responsible for thousands of more retirees in the area.
We urge the public to contact the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the public comment period, which ends April 16. A public hearing will be held on March 26 at 6:00 p.m. at Sunset Elementary School in Airway Heights (12824 W. 12th Ave.). The public can send a letter via email here.
The public can also submit written letters to:
Mr. Stanley Speaks, Northwest Regional Director
Bureau of Indian Affairs, Northwest Region
911 Northeast 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97232