To the Editor:

Kittitas County needs to “pretty up” the property adjacent to Bowers Field. Currently, that property is not nice enough to attract economic growth or residential recreation. Unfortunately, the current airport master plan covers only infrastructure related to flying, ground operations and storage within the airport fence. That plan does not promote attractive, economy-based ideas outside the operations area. In fact there is no coherent plan to improve the property, and this has led to ugly issues, most harmfully, toward an aimless future, financially, ecologically and residentially.

Adjacent to city limits and growing housing stand piles of rubble, dilapidated buildings, and abandoned business lots full of junk. Barbed-wire topped, chain link fences surround gravel storage areas and well houses, but no longer fit within desirable growth models. Some (not all) operating businesses in that area are not sightworthy enough to welcome either residential or “clean” businesses additions. Hence, the county needs a future-sensitive plan to replace the obsolete strategies that led to the airport’s disheveled appearance. Future county growth will beg for a better design, and planning should begin now.

More positively, opportunities abound to attract viable economic growth to the airport in conjunction with recreational activities. The mountain views are gorgeous; surrounding parks are possible; and Bowers Road allows quick access. On site, the Department of Natural Resources building boasts an energy efficient model for future builders. The Kittcom 911 dispatch facility and several other metal business buildings are modern and well kept. Also, the city has completed a beautiful bike path from CWU, through North Alder Street Park, scheduled to extend to airport property. Adjoining wetlands beg for that trail to circumnavigate the airport, inviting cyclists, bird watchers, joggers, airplane enthusiasts, and others to the area. Wisely, then, that area should become a park-like business community. County planners, creative and artful ones, should work this design. Contrarily, a cold, lifeless business park is not an alternative; they no longer find their way into model communities.

County action to clean up and modernize the site should start immediately. Regardless of whether CWU stays or moves their flight program — CWU must contribute, if they stay — citizens will need an airport in this geographically rough region, and modern flight technology will enable the connection. Like communities elsewhere, we can have an excellent airport-park which we will enjoy using and being around, but only if we plan it out.

Michael Lundin

Ellensburg

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