The lead paragraph in the article of June 12 (“Taking flight”) about Keene giving the green light to the helicopter school proposal is misleading. It fails to disclose that almost all of the “outpouring of support” for the proposal was solicited from people who do not live in Keene. The “outpouring” from actual residents was almost entirely against it.
An undiscerning mind might consider the concerned residents as anti-airport, but this is mistaken and does an injustice to the residents.
The neighboring residents recognize the airport as a fellow member of the community and only ask to be treated by the airport in a considerate manner in return. It is a sad situation that the airport does not, so residents have no choice but to speak out. But to have concerns does not mean the residents are against the airport.
And because they are neighbors to the airport does not mean they have no right to express their concerns. We have, at least, the illusion of living in a democracy with free speech rights for all. People should be able to express their concerns without undue criticism.
Most of the airport’s income from aviation activity comes from nonresidents, mainly through hangar rentals, but also the 8 cents from each gallon of gas sold. The income is far less than what it costs Keene to maintain the airport, with much of its use by nonresidents wealthy enough to fly small planes.
It’s a shame there are not more businesses like C&S here in the area. It brings income to the community, is a fine neighbor and a very welcome presence.
The helicopter school will likely add at least a few hundred dollars a month to the city coffers. This may not offset possible loss in tax revenues in the future from lower property values in the neighboring areas, thanks to increased noise. (There’s lots of research showing aviation noise lowers property values more than other types of noise.)
The airport’s outlook has great challenges: long-term depressed levels of air travel, especially with COVID-19 recurrences, low pay for pilots, and the lack of enough demand to meet the commercial airline practice of fully booked flights. We must hope for a miracle.
Meanwhile, it behooves us all to recognize the toll taken by the constant stress of living with the risks of COVID-19.
51 Greenwood Ave.