Airborne Resentment

The new fly-in community just east of Parker has drawn plenty of ire from neighbors worried about planes crashing into their homes -- see last week’s "Up in the Air." While much of the anger has been focused on the developer, Pete Vinton, the neighbors also petitioned county leaders to stonewall the project. Since Elbert County approved the plan a year ago, there’s little anyone can do. But that won’t stop the anti-airpark contingent from trying.

One neighbor, Bill Stordahl, recently emailed county commissioner Hope Goetz in regard to a plane crash on the property in August.

Here’s Stordahl:

Hope, please realize that my concern stems only from the issue of safety. I would like you to imagine the accident of last week and the accident of last summer with just slightly different outcomes. Imagine for just a moment that the grading equipment you saw on the news had not been on the runway. Imagine that a family of four is returning home from dinner in Parker driving north on Delbert. The family is enjoying a wonderful summer evening when suddenly, and out of nowhere a plane appears. It is sliding down the run way, out of control, and heading directly toward them. They swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the plane but it is too late, the plane smashes into the side of the car. The pilot, the two adults and two children are killed instantly.

Then, think back to last summer when one of their planes crashed in the field on the other side of Delbert. That plane went down 150 yards from an outdoor arena that was full of young children taking riding lessons. That plane went directly over that arena before it crashed. What if that plane did not make that final 150 yards? What if it went down in that arena, what would have happened then? What if that plane went into the indoor arena when Mark was conducting a show?

Please remember that these accidents happened. It is only by the Grace of God that the outcomes were different than what I described. Someday we will not be so lucky and maybe then the three of you will decide to do something. I wonder what you will tell the families of these victims. Maybe, "After talking with the other Commissioners, the County Attorney and Planning Dept., we have decided that a meeting with you would not serve any purpose".

And here’s Goetz’s reply:

I can not continue to debate this when I have been assured that there is nothing we can do. I believe they are in compliance because Richard [Miller, the county’s Planning Director] has said so. None of us have control of our destiny and we have lost more lives at the stop sign on 186 and Delbert than I care to remember. When it is our turn to die, it could be a jet from DIA, a car accident or a heart attack or quick acting disease like my husband died from. I do not fear the airplanes and they were there long before you or I moved out here. God is in charge of my time to die and it will not happen till he is ready to take me. I am concerned that your stress level from stewing over this will cause you health problems. Please relax and take care of yourself.

Since Elbert County has been less than receptive to their concerns, the neighbors say they’re now entreating adjacent Douglas County for help. Stay tuned as the airpark drama, er, takes off.

-- Naomi Zeveloff

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