Airport replacement gets trashed. A new Buchanan Field cannot be built at Acme Landfill, consultant says
By Tamara Grippi
The Tri-Valley (CA) Herald MARTINEZ — Opponents of a plan to redevelop Buchanan Field in Concord brought some new ammunition to the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday — an engineer’s report pointing to the prohibitive cost of building a new airport at one leading replacement site.
The cost to clean up the Acme Landfill near Martinez to make the property suitable for an airport could run from $1.25 billion to as high as $1.8 billion, said Dianne Cole of the Friends of Concord Airport Coalition.
Cole was quoting from an engineering review on the Acme Landfill site prepared on behalf of her group by a consultant, Brown, Vence and Associates of Roseville.
The report concludes that “all landfill materials must be evacuated” simply for the site to be given consideration to house a future airport. Such evacuation and soil replacement would require approximately 2.8 million truck trips to remove the waste and backfill the site, according to the report.
“It could be done if you have unlimited funding,” Cole said. “But developers aren’t going to spend that kind of money because they’ll never get it back.”
The landfill is one site that has been suggested as an alternate location for the airport by county Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier of Concord. DeSaulnier originally put forward the idea of redeveloping Buchanan Field as a mixed-use community of housing, office and retail space.
So far, the Board of Supervisors has agreed that the idea is at least worth exploring. Later this month, the supervisors are expected to issue a request-for-proposals to developers interested in pursing the redevelopment.
DeSaulnier has explained that a new airport would have to be completed and fully operational before Buchanan could be closed.
The onus of finding a suitable replacement sight would fall on the developer that takes on the project, he said.
In response to the newly released study, DeSaulnier said:
“If that’s the truth, then that’s one site that wouldn’t be available.”
“Who knows the motives behind the study?” he added. “Who knows who paid for it? Who knows if the numbers are accurate?”
At Tuesday’s meeting, Cole was joined by numerous airport supporters, many of them pilots, who urged the board to drop the proposal.
“The proposal seems to only benefit a few who seek to make millions,” said Bob Johnson, a Walnut Creek resident and pilot.
Some suggested that DeSaulnier was pushing the proposal to benefit developers.
The supervisor decried allowing such a “level of personal attacks” at the meeting.
One aviation leader in the county, Russell Roe, joined DeSaulnier in calling for respectful discourse. While arguing that the “best location for Buchanan airport is right where it is,” Roe suggested that there may be one other site in the county, “if it ever comes to pass that the airport has to be closed.” He didn’t name that site.
Cole declined to state how much the study cost, noting only that it was expensive. Her group received numerous donations, ranging in amounts as low as $20 to contributions ranging in the thousands of dollars.
Tuesday’s meeting marked the latest swing of the pendulum of the airport debate. Last week, DeSaulnier’s cause was buoyed by support from labor representatives, builders and an environmentalist.
Cole asked the supervisors to place the engineering report on its next agenda and said the consultant would be available to answer questions.