This post contains portions of a letter sent to all Bridgeton city residents by former Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Director Donald W. Bennett in 1989.
Airport expansion will not destroy Bridgeton!
In the weeks since the airport planning group announced they had narrowed the study for Lambert expansion to 4 alternatives, misinformation and rumors have been rampant. In retrospect, we should have said nothing until a final plan was developed.
First, please do not jump to conclusions. The final recommendation for airport expansion will be made in mid-October. Given the preliminary work I’ve seen, I am confident that many of the fears and concerns being expressed will be found to be unwarranted. Bridgeton will be totally destroyed are simply not correct.
Second, this letter is a general mailing to the residents of Bridgeton to address fears of airport expansion. We deeply regret that there will be some displacements. I can assure you, though, that the number one priority in reviewing the four options in the minimum disruption of community life. Specifically which properties will be needed for airport expansion will not be known until a final recommendation is made.
Third, those who need to move will be dealt with fairly and sensitively. Since property purchases began several years ago, we have successfully purchased over 1500 homes through separate negotiations iwth individual property owners. In addition to a fair purchase price, there are a host of other services provided to make the move for homeowners, renters, and affected businesses as easy as possible.
If we do nothing and let the center of air travel move to other states where airports are expanding, Lambert will slowly be strangled. That means we will ultimately lose jobs when that happens. The total negative impact on the entire community will be far worse than having to buy a number of homes for Lambert expansion.
Expansion of the airport is a painful decision that will, unfortunately, affect some people. We all understand this human factor and are pledged to work diligently to minimize the impact on those who must be affected. But to do nothing, or try to move (the whole airport) elsewhere, would be unfair to the people of our region today and destructive to our children’s future.
In 1989, I was a young kid. Now, in the year 2012, my former classmates and neighbors who stayed in St. Louis are paying on the increasing debt load for a barely-utilized path of concrete that opened 5 and a half years ago. According to Bennett, the plan that was supposed to save our generation’s economic future was the very thing that has given us a $1.4 billion debt burden and left us with a runway that would have better luck hosting local drag races than commercial jets. Mr. Bennett was correct in saying that Bridgeton would not be completely destroyed. However, eliminating half of the city of Bridgeton and the entire community of Carrollton during an exasperating 20 year period is not exactly what most people today would consider “diligently minimizing impact.”