It was reported in Saturday’s Tracy Press that four of the seven city of Tracy airport commissioners had resigned. One of the remaining commissioners said, “We are never going to get an extended runway, never going to get a sewer system; we can’t sell the airport because of FAA money. Each time the commission would recommend something, staff would come back with the opposite view.”
Commissioner Asghar Shah suggested that the proximity of a proposed water park and housing development was a factor in the Tracy City Council’s decision to back The Boyd Group recommendations to limit Tracy Municipal Airport expansion.
“There’s a lot of politics going on,” he said.
As a member of the 2000 Tracy Tomorrow’s group on economic development, I remember that a major recommendation of our committee was that the airport runway be expanded. My Tracy Tomorrow committee identified the airport as a major component of economic development in Tracy. For the last 15 years, Tracy citizens have heard promises of jobs and economic development from Councilman Brent Ives, one of this year’s mayoral candidates. All we have seen is another 15,000 houses.
Now, to accommodate a developer who wants to build 2,200 homes, Ives wants to eliminate the possibility of airport expansion and associated economic development in Tracy forever. The developer has cleverly tied his homebuilding to a much-needed aquatics park for Tracy’s children. The developer has promised $20 million for construction of the park, but he wants the city to pay him back if he can’t build his homes. After seeing finance director Zane Johnston’s extended presentation on the city’s finances at the Oct. 17 council meeting, you would believe the city will be in dire financial straits if it has to lay out $20 million. As presented in an April 18 staff report, the city has a better option for the sports park that the aquatics park committee recommended. Build the aquatics park at the Tracy Ball Park utilizing $10 million in redevelopment money without developer funds. The report says, “If the top priority is the economic revival or development of underserved areas of the city, the Tracy Ball Park is the preferred site. It is located in an area that has experienced no recent development and that would be substantially renewed with the inclusion of an aquatics recreation.”
With the aquatics center at the Tracy Ball Park, the airport runway expansion could still occur and there would be a more centralized location for Tracy’s children to make use of the aquaticss center.
It is time for the Tracy voters to elect leaders who take action on economic development rather than just build houses.
• Emma Sarvey is a retired owner of a Tracy shoe store.