This is in response to comments made by town of Johnstown Supervisor Nancy MacVean, published in an article in the Aug. 2 edition of The Daily Gazette. The article was reporting on the assessment lawsuit involving the hangars situated on county-owned land at the Fulton County Airport.
MacVean, for one reason or another, apparently felt compelled to pass along comments about the airport that she said she heard from "the public" expressing the sentiment that the airport should be sold or closed. I quote from the article: "The public told me it was a bunch of rich boys playing with their toys at the airport."
Prejudicial comments like these should never be passed along by responsible public servants. MacVean's comments in particular demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the value of our airport and others like it.
As far as the snide remark about "rich boys playing with their toys" goes, let me say this: The vast majority of private aircraft that reside at the Fulton County Airport are older airplanes, owned and flown by regular, everyday, middle-class men and women who pay tie-down fees and hangar rent for the privilege of keeping their aircraft there. They buy fuel and have maintenance done, which puts money into the local economy. On a recent Saturday, many of the airport tenants participated in the Young Eagles program that offers free, introductory airplane rides to youths between the ages of 7 and 17. We introduced 78 young people to the world of aviation that day, at our own expense.
One recent morning, there was a corporate jet with a French registration number at the airport. It had brought in business executives to discuss a multimillion-dollar business project for the area. Good transportation facilities are a necessity if new businesses (translate that: "jobs") are to be attracted to our area.
The federal government recognizes the absolute necessity for good regional airports not only to promote economic development, but to provide essential emergency services during natural or man-made disasters. That is why 90 percent of the money for airport development and improvements comes from federal funds.
The Fulton County Airport is one of our region's biggest assets. It is to be hoped that all our public officials would realize this, and refrain from taking cheap potshots at something they don't understand.
JOHN W. PECK