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Oct. 12, 2002

An open letter to Board of Supervisors of El Dorado County

You have taken a recent action that has major implications for the Georgetown Airport and El Dorado County. The Airport is a valuable asset to local Georgetown businesses, as well as El Dorado County. Ten years ago, this was not the case. Mostly, the Airport gate was pad-locked with only a couple of airplanes on the ramp. Today, there are between 36 and 40 aircraft permanently based at the Georgetown Airport. The Airport has become an important asset to El Dorado County, which benefits from tie-down fees; hangar rental fees; gasoline tax; sales tax on parts; and general sales tax. The Georgetown community benefits from the visitors who fly into Georgetown Airport from all over California and spend money locally.

What I'm concerned about is a recent vote by the Board of Supervisors to force the current Fixed Base Operator (FBO) out of the Georgetown Airport without an immediate replacement. This action means that in all likelihood, the operation of the Georgetown Airport's facilities will shut down when the FBO leaves. (The County has given him 30 days to get out.) There will be no aircraft rentals, no maintenance availability, no flight instruction, no charter flights, no manning of the Airport radio, no place to buy aviation related items such as maps, study guides, and in general, no place to even buy snacks or sit down and have a cup of coffee. The Airport will become a "ghost" airport.

The Supervisors acted without input from the Georgetown Airport Advisory Committee. In fact, an Airport Advisory Committee meeting was mysteriously canceled at the last moment, Tuesday, October 8th, by El Dorado County staff in an apparent effort to avoid allowing public comment on the FBO removal. In the past few days I have spoken with Supervisor Penny Humphreys, Airports, Parks, and Grounds Manager Gary Hayden, and Airport Operations Supervisor David Nicolls without receiving a logical explanation of why the public was not allowed input on the FBO removal. Supervisor Humphreys comment to me about the canceling of the Advisory Committee meeting was that "the public has no input at Advisory Committee meetings". Huh? How can this be? Isn't the purpose of the Georgetown Airport Advisory Committee to offer input to the County from the public? What this tells me is that the Board of Supervisors and staff have no interest whatsoever in hearing from the public on such important Airport issues. For their own political reasons they are willing to ignore the public they have sworn to represent. How does this heavy handed action build confidence in the citizens of El Dorado County? It doesn't! The Board of Supervisors has failed to meet it's obligation to the citizens of our county. In particular, Penny Humphreys has miserably failed to support and protect the interests of the constituents of her district.

Having served as an elected official I realize how important it is to have confidence and trust in your elected officials. It is vital that they serve the public that put them in office.

I am also a pilot, an aircraft owner, a tenant and frequent user of the Georgetown Airport. Over the years I have come to appreciate the true value of the Georgetown Airport and the service it provides to the Georgetown area and El Dorado County. You owe it to the users of the Airport and citizens of El Dorado County to allow input on such an important issue. Rescind your vote, extend the contract of the current FBO, and open PUBLIC hearings on the matter.

Patrick H. Leeds
President, EAA, Chapter 1074,
2000 Rock Creek Rd., Georgetown, 95634

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