South airport cargo project still receiving mixed reviews

South airport cargo project still receiving mixed reviews
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 8:07 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A major project at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is still on track as members of a West Anchorage neighborhood voice their concerns.

The project involves a proposal from Northlink Aviation to expand air cargo facilities at the South Airpark Campus.

A public meeting Tuesday that saw residents of nearby neighborhoods completely pack the room was scheduled to be the last chance for the community to voice opinions on the project.

Northlink has been working on this project for almost two years now, and Tuesday’s meeting saw mixed reaction.

According to Sean Dolan, Northlink Aviation CEO, the development would provide what he calls “needed infrastructure” for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, creating more space for parking planes and plugging aircraft into ground power.

“The airport has been growing significantly over the last several years, and the airport is in desperate need of a solution to address propylene glycol going into Cook Inlet,” Dolan said. “Northlink Aviation is going to provide a privately-funded solution to ensure that the de-icing fluid that’s used for planes during the winter doesn’t go into Cook Inlet.”

Some residents expressed concerns about the proximity of the project, with it being close to a residential neighborhood. Several spoke out against it and pointed to what they believe will be increased noise, air, and light pollution, as well as worries over well water quality.

“This project will forever change the quality of the life we have enjoyed, and if the airport and Northlink want to be good neighbors, let’s see them address some of our concerns,” said one resident who lives across Raspberry Road.

“I think we’ve heard from some of the neighbors of Sand Lake who have legitimate concerns about possible harm to the quality of life, their health, the health of their children, and property values,” said another Anchorage resident.

Supporters of the project voiced a consensus that the development from this project would be good for Alaska due to the positive impacts on the state’s economy.

“They have taken into account the community councils’ concerns, the community’s concerns — gone to great lengths to address those. It seems to be a responsible project,” one supporter said.

The presence of labor unions was strong at the meeting as members came to speak in favor of the development and jobs that the project would bring.

“Here at home, this is an opportunity we have to support those types of careers, and I just wanted to put my support for that,” one member said.

After hearing some of the remarks, Dolan maintained Northlink has an Anchorage-based team of professionals that understands the complexity of projects at airports.

With the project currently in a review process, the company just needs the Federal Aviation Administration to issue a decision on the draft. If the federal agency finds it to have no significant impact, construction would begin this summer.