Thursday, December 30, 2004
Contentious plan for south terminal at Ontario, Calif., airport gets dropped
The Inland Valley (CA) Daily Bulletin
ONTARIO, Calif. — An expansion proposal that included a terminal on the south side of Ontario International Airport is expected to be dropped in favor of adding terminals to the airport’s north side. The plan to divide the terminals on two sides, dubbed Alternative II, drew fire from politicians, residents and business owners who called the plan illogical and costly. The alternative was one of two plans for expansion announced in August.
The south alternative would have placed an airline terminal right in the middle of the historic Hofer Ranch, where Paul Hofer III and developer Hillwood plan to build a large air cargo-related facility.
Airport officials said that plan was considered objectionable to the public.
“It’s a requirement to be open and alert and considerate to the community,” said Jim Ritchie, deputy executive director of long-range planning for Los Angeles World Airports, at a November board meeting. “My recommendation to the commission at this time is that we drop Alternative II, and move forward with Alternative I.”
The Board of Airport Commissioners did not object, and a formal report is expected to be brought to the board sometime in January.
Officials at LAWA, which owns and operates the Ontario airport, declined to comment further this week on the statements made at the meeting.
A third terminal at ONT would be added only after the airport records two consecutive years of 10 million passengers. The airport currently serves nearly 7 million passengers a year.
City officials said they were pleased, but not surprised, at LAWA’s stated direction.
“I think it’s a wise choice,” said Ontario Councilman Paul Leon on Wednesday. “I don’t think there was any serious consideration for Alternative II. … The vacant land for the terminals was all about building terminals on the north side.”
The south terminal plan had been a source of tension between Hofer and the airport. Hofer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Airport officials have said they are required by law to examine multiple alternatives for expansion.
“I’m happy for Mr. Hofer, who has fought diligently for years to control his property,” Leon said.
The first plan is expected to increase the number of terminals on the airport’s north side from two to five and move both existing runways farther south, possibly requiring the acquisition of about 30 acres.
“For once, an agency or bureaucracy has yielded to the express will of the people,” said Ontario resident Mike Schreib. He later added: “Ontario International Airport has been the stepchild of LAX for far too long. If it needs to expand its terminals, it needs to expand its service internationally.”
The south alternative would have had a total of three terminals on the north side and one large terminal on the south side. It would have required the acquisition of about 220 acres south of the airport.
Ontario International Airport is expected to accommodate up to 30 million passengers annually by 2030.