The Port of Kennewick is not unique in having to make critical decisions about the operating subsidy (now and projected) of a major facility such as Vista Field. Pasco believes that the operating subsidy of TRAC is too high for the benefit derived, hence the support for a regional aquatics facility there instead. In Tacoma, the convention center, and in Kent, the ShoWare Center, are both requiring a heavier subsidy than expected in tough budgetary times, forcing tough decisions.
Vista Field continues to sit in the midst in this booming region's major commercial center and is one of three airports providing vastly similar services benefiting a small group of pilots and businesses. The port can't buy enough surrounding land to create a successful airport at Vista and plowing more of taxpayers' money into it isn't going to positively affect the subsidy.
The Port of Kennewick is known for vision and innovation -- see what the port has done, and plans to do, on and around Clover Island in Kennewick or the Spaulding Business Park in Richland. Its ability to continue these projects and others throughout the district is hampered by continuing to spend resources at Vista Field with little or no return. Every dollar poured into the airport is a dollar that cannot be invested in visionary projects that can help revitalize the regional economy. The port's job is to create new jobs!
I know Vista Field supporters are well-organized and well-meaning. However, at some point, port leaders must get realistic and recognize that even the best intentions of Dr. Shannon, other pilots, and the aviation community aren't going to make the airport pencil out.
Perhaps new Commissioner Barnes, with his background in aviation and knowledge of commercial real estate, will be able to help show the way to a better future and greater return on investment of taxpayers' dollars. Then let's see a great visionary plan that would create real Tri-Cities jobs.
-- THOMAS MOAK, Kennewick