Monday, May 24, 2010

Nut Tree Airport plan shared

A sustained, full-service airport is just one vision stakeholders have in mind for the future of the Nut Tree Airport. A stakeholders' meeting, followed by a community outreach meeting Thursday evening elaborated on the vision and goals that are desired for the Nut Tree Airport in its updated master plan.

The group of about 30 met in the Harbison event center in the Nut Tree center to discuss the first draft of the vision, existing conditions and forecasts of aviation activity. "We're interested in seeing this being a viable asset," said Vacaville Vice Mayor Curtis Hunt, adding that the city and the county will benefit from a thriving airport.

The Nut Tree Airport is owned and operated by Solano County and is open to the general public and to visiting aircraft. It has been in continuous operation at its current site since 1955. Ideas of expanding the runway -- which is 4,700 feet in length and 75 feet wide -- and incorporating adjacent businesses are both on the table, as well as including Travis Air Force Base in the scope of future development.

Travis Air Force Base, according to Ryan Hayes with consulting group Barnard Dunkelberg and Company, explained that the Nut Tree Airport's runway sits along the outside of the military base restricted fly zone area. "We would not recommend any development that would adversely affect Travis," Hayes said.

Project Manager Peter Van Pelt added that the size of the runway will play a major part in what types of aircraft can land at the airport in the future. Representatives from the consulting group also shared that they forecast aviation activity to grow modestly during the next 20 years. Total landings and takeoffs in 2009 equaled 101,500 and that's expected to grow, based on certain industry trends, to 127,329 in 2030. 

"During this time other airports might see it level off or even decline." Meanwhile, some residents have concerns about additional noise levels and whether there is accurate representation of people who would be affected by changes at the small airport. Van Pelt explained that's exactly why a stakeholders meeting was created.