While Jan Burton’s piece in the Camera from May about preserving Boulder Airport (BDU) has several problems, here is one in particular: Burton claims that if airport land was repurposed, the FAA would require reimbursement of $100 million.
Rather than speculation, consider actual data provided by city staff on FAA subsidies listed in a March 3, 2018, memorandum from city staff titled, “Debt Analysis … Including Repayment of Airport Projects and Properties…” which is public information.
If the BDU land was repurposed, the city would need to return unused grant funding. In 2018, the prorated amount was estimated to total $2.9 million. FAA records show BDU has taken around $5 million in subsidies since then.
Separately, FAA subsidies purchased 49 acres of land. (The city owns the balance of roughly 133 acres.) If Boulder were to repurpose that parcel, it would need to be sold at market value and the proceeds given to the FAA. The report assumed a valuation of $2.2 million per acre, for $106 million total.
Thus, if those acres are sold to a third party for development there is no cost to the city.
Only if Boulder buys those acres would there be a $100 million-plus cost. However, the city would gain a precious asset that could generate income in perpetuity, would likely appreciate, and could help achieve city climate and equity goals.
Alternatively, the entire acreage could be sold and Boulder would earn millions.
I believe it is irresponsible to lead people to believe the city would owe $100 million and get nothing in return. I sincerely hope the City Council is using due diligence in gathering accurate information about airport repurposing rather than relying on rumors from parties that have personal interests in BDU.
Anne Wilson, Boulder
See article here.