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Good government at work
Last week the Mercer Island City Council and Renton officials agreed to delay any further decisions on the expansion of Renton's municipal airport until further studies are conducted. It was a smart move.
The agreement stipulates that the two cities will gather more information on the environmental impacts of a busier airport and that residents of both cities will be consulted about the impacts of a larger facility on their neighborhoods. The cost of the study will be shared.
Presumably a noise study will include specific steps that can be applied to minimize the impact of flights currently routed over the Island as well as added flights that would come with an expansion.
It is gratifying that public input has played a role in this agreement. Citizens from both Renton and Mercer Island have been heard.
Meetings on the proposed expansion were well attended. Islanders with aviation expertise weighed in with what they knew. All were not of the same opinion about the expansion. Some said the noise was not a significant problem. Others offered suggestions about how more planes could be handled with alternative flight paths. City officials and airport planners listened and responded.
This is representative government at work. The City Council has represented the Island well — both presenting concerns from the Island and cooperating with Renton officials to do what is right.
To make it work, a good deal of information and cooperation must come from the Federal Aviation Administration, which will have the final say on how the airport will manage flights. Flight paths that minimize noise to residents below must not be merely suggested or voluntary. There should be clear regulation as to how aircraft approach or take off over the Island — and consequences or fines for those who do not follow those instructions.