A group of about 15 Lewis County residents who have organized under the name Citizens for Responsible Aviation in Toledo, or CRAT, gathered at the Steamboat Landing in Toledo Tuesday evening to create a unifying voice in their opposition of Ed Carlson Memorial Field becoming a SeaTac-type airport.
In July, the Lewis County Board of Commissioners submitted Toledo’s airport, sometimes known as South Lewis County Airport, as a potential option for the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission (CACC) to consider in its pursuit of addressing an increase in demand for aviation infrastructure.
The CACC has been in the process of developing a list of possible locations to expand into a regional airport that would relieve some of the pressure that is put on SeaTac.
They intend to have a shortlist of six prospective airports by Jan. 1, 2021, then have it whittled down to the top two by Sept. 1, 2021, and finally, have a preferred location chosen by Jan. 1, 2022 with hopes that the airport will be operational by 2040.
County Commissioner Gary Stamper has been adamant that the chances of Ed Carlson Memorial Field being selected as the location would be akin to winning the lottery three times over and the reason the BOCC submitted the airport was to boost its chances of drawing investment and obtaining federal grants.
But about a month ago, CRAT formed because the people among the group are not interested in taking the chance of winning the lottery, Joh Jones said, who led the meeting.
“We began to question why we had not been informed (of the proposal) when other counties had when their names were submitted and citizens had an opportunity to voice their concerns or approval, in our case it is a concern,” Jones said.
The purpose of CRAT’s meeting on Tuesday was to devise both a mission and a vision statement that embodied their stance against a massive airport being introduced to Toledo while also being clear about what kind of growth to the airport that they were okay with.
A minority of the group felt there should be no growth at all, seeing it as a gateway to much larger expansion.
However, a majority of the group was in agreement that they envisioned CRAT’s mission to reject a regional airport at Ed Carlson Memorial Field but also to advocate for a plan to make the airport self-sufficient.
A plan on making the airport self-sufficient wasn’t created at the meeting, though suggestions were tossed around like the addition of a cafe or the possibility of a flight school.
After about 70 minutes of going back and forth and fine tuning the language of their mission they created the following mission statement as well as a “vision statement.”
“Citizens for Responsible Aviation in Toledo advocates for the development of a self-sufficient airport while maintaining the current airport footprint,” the mission statement reads.
Their vision statement is as follows, “To protect our natural environment while partnering with Lewis County on airport-related decisions affecting citizens in communities throughout the region.”
What is next for the CRAT? Jones stressed to attendees at the meeting to write letters to the county commissioners as well as the CACC to let them know how they feel.
Additionally, the group was sure they would need more support from the public than just the 15 people who showed up to the meeting, and discussed ways to promote their message through social media and by passing around flyers.
To learn more or to get involved with CRAT, go to their website at www.toledoforaviation.com or their Facebook page titled “Citizens for Responsible Aviation in Toledo.”