Beaufort County officials contend that most residents favor the proposed improvements at the Hilton Head Island Airport and that a small group of very vocal people is against lengthening the runway.
This small group has done extensive research regarding the airport, consulting aviation experts, the Federal Aviation Administration, US Airways executives and congressional representatives. It has performed detailed cost-benefit analyses and posed pertinent questions to the consulting firm, Talbert and Bright, which developed the master plan. This group, after much research, came to the conclusion that the anticipated cost of extending the runway does not justify the expected benefit.
According to the master plan, the county would be responsible for approximately 5 percent of the runway extension cost. The people contesting this expenditure think this money would be better spent on making up for projected school cutbacks, fire-and-rescue facilities, and developing the Mitchelville project and native island heritage sites.
The list goes on and on. The group is not against the airport. In fact, they have submitted an alternative proposal for lengthening, which has yet to receive the focused attention of county officials. In these difficult economic times, the expenditure of monies on a project whose benefit is questionable is unwise and imprudent. County residents deserve full disclosure of the airport master plan conducted in a fair and balanced manner. Lengthening the runway is a luxury; good schools are not.
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Mary E. Smetek
Hilton Head Island