By Cheryl Skinner
What you see is not always what you get
When Arcola Mayor Tom Tuffly sent a lengthy letter to the Federal Aviation Administration recently demanding they explain the conflicts at Houston Southwest Airport or shut the facility down, he was acting, I presume, on the information he had been provided and had the best
interests of the city at heart.
However, what you see is not always what you get. The information, graphs, letters to and from Fort Bend County and the FAA were used, primarily by Arcola resident and newly elected city councilmember Tom Hilton, to question the viability of the airport. Hilton’s home backs up to
the airport and he was some miffed when Steve Griffith removed a tree barrier a while back. Whether this plays a part in his continued effort to annihilate the airport is something only he knows for sure.
At any rate, last week the FAA wrote Tuffly a three page letter explaining that the information he was basing his anger, inquiry and demands on was—well—it was outdated and pertained to the 2004 effort on behalf of the county to upgrade the airport to reliever status should they
purchase it. The county was looking at what was needed to comply with laws and to get an overview of costs. The county ultimately decided not to purchase the airport, due primarily to an outcry from Arcola officials and citizens, but the public records remained accessible to all who wanted to
look at them. Unfortunately no one apparently ever realized all the stipulations on the airport were a “what if” compilation of factors and not a cut in stone blueprint of the airport as it was at that time or is today.
The FAA is clearly supportive of Steve Griffith and the role his airport plays in the Houston region. The letter repeatedly supports his efforts for improvements and says he has complied with all the requirements of the FAA in securing and maintaining grants to further those
I personally think it is time for the city of Arcola in general, and Tom Hilton in particular, to lay down the sword. No one likes to have an airport in their back yard, but that facility has been around a long time and a lot of those back yards were nothing more than pasture when
the airport was constructed.
It is time accept the fact that the airport is part of the unique makeup of the city. Perhaps if the city agrees to work with Griffith, the outcome will be positive.
The other approach certainly hasn’t worked.