Gilpin County Commissioners listen to resident’s concerns
By Jaclyn Schrock
Gilpin County Commissioner’s (BoCC) regular meeting was delayed slightly Tuesday, December 10, 2019. The extra five minutes allowed time for comments from the press and public, so three people commented. The first was a question about the delay of a response, and the next two were concerned citizens regarding the noise of jet traffic in our community.
Madame Chair Isenhart of Gilpin’s BoCC requested that comments regarding the Metroplex be held until the work session scheduled at 11:15 a.m. The room was nearly full with GRRift (Gilpin Residents Refusing increased flight traffic) supporters. After the second comment by a Gilpin resident regarding the jet noise, no others requested to make comments. Linda Isenhart said at 9:15 a.m. that they needed to move on to the scheduled agenda. However, she did allow GRRift founder Donna Parman to come to the Commissioners table and speak into the microphone. Perhaps this was to accommodate those who were in the room, rather than waiting two hours for the scheduled time to present at the work session. Since another work session was scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 12 at 1:30 p.m., the Tuesday work session listed on the agenda was cancelled.
With such a vast audience, Commissioner Gail Watson began by relaying the efforts the Commissioners have been working on for the last month. They began by asking other nearby Colorado counties how they regarded the Metroplex Next Gen proposal. Some didn’t know about it. Apparently Jefferson County did not recognize any concern, while Arapaho County with Centennial Airport already had a very strong resistance organized to refuse the Metroplex Next Gen proposal by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
Commissioner Watson found Boulder County to be seeking to help the FAA recognize that the estimation of sounds believed to be heard from jets on paper differs from the sound heard on the ground in our geological region. They suggest that temperature, rock faces of cliffs and steep slopes of mountains and valleys along with the continental divide amplify the jet sounds.
Commissioner Watson also found support from Colorado’s 2nd district US Representative Joe Nuguse’s office. Details had not yet been published stating that two staff members from Joe Nuguse’s office will be at Gilpin County’s Recreation Center on Wednesday, December 18, from 2-3 p.m. The purpose of the meeting is for one of Colorado’s Representatives to the US House of Representatives to hear Gilpin Resident’s comments to the Denver Metroplex plan.
Previously, Representative Neguse had recognized Boulder’s resistance to increased air traffic, currently experiencing higher volumes of jet plane noise from changed flight paths. Nuguse’s staff helped prepare Boulder for the FAA Metroplex meeting there this spring. Air traffic was encouraged to be moved south from Boulder toward Gilpin County. When the FAA responded positively to this proposal, then Gilpin County residents complained.
The Public Comment Period for the Denver Metroplex closed in early June this year. That was before many affected areas were even made aware of the proposed changes. Commissioner Gail Watson did send a letter of concern to FAA’s Denver Metroplex plan the last day that the public comments were accepted. She asked to be heard that Gilpin did not support their plan. Gilpin County Commissioners sent a formal letter to the FAA Western Regional Director requesting a round table of discussion and information sharing. This letter was printed in the Weekly Register-Call on November 14, 2019.
The FAA had already established another window of opportunity to provide public comments to the Denver Metro plan, November 18 – December 20, 2019. Contact information to make a correspondence to the FAA by individuals and public governing officials may be found at the end of this article.
Commissioner Ron Engels supported Commissioner Watson’s reports. Engels also added his understanding of Adam County’s concerns with Broomfield air traffic.
He also mentioned recognizing Section 106 of the Denver Metroplex Next Gen plan could consider valid reasoning to alter or stop a proposed plan if historical buildings and sites are impacted by the flight plans. He is working to compiling a listing of Gilpin’s historic structures and locations that would be adversely effected by increased air traffic.
Parman thanked the Commissioners for the report of their activities. She and a team of others have spearheaded the project in Gilpin County to educate and protest the Denver Metroplex Next Gen Project. She then presented more research she has acquired recently to validate there are at least 100 more flights a day over us compared to just four years ago. Many in the audience have found their serenity and peace have changed living here. They have recognized the disturbance from the increase of an additional 100 flights a day, tripling the flights over Gilpin County.
The proposed Denver Metroplex plan would bring hundreds more daily flights over us because of the narrowing of air traffic over four directions from an airport. The Metroplex plan converges all North, South, East and West traffic in and out of an airport into tight routes over small ranges that previously have had flight paths spread out in a fan formation.
Gilpin County is mapped to be a converging point of western routes through DIA. This increased air highway through DIA would make a significant impact to local quality of life, and likely property values. Add to those DIA flight paths that travel through other airports, the flights that do not land at DIA. Many other flights go over us traveling through Colorado with other destinations.
Altitude of the flights over us may have some impact on the sounds our amplification of geology magnifies in our peaceful community. However, flights over 40,000 feet can still be heard through our double and triple pane windows. Our altitude and geography is not entirely unique to other Metroplex locations, but few have our exact topography.
First, we have almost no ambient noise, while most other communities have at least some consistent noise from ground traffic, factories, wind, waves, etc. Second, our higher altitude brings us closer to the jet travel. Third, our weather conditions and steep vertical inclines tend to increase the magnitude and reverberation of sound.
Parman also reported the comparison of noise complaints by citizens whose lives were disrupted by the heavy jet traffic in states that have had the Metroplex Next Gen plan implemented. There are three phases to the implementations, and with each phase, more complaints are received. Some of the airports had to develop a hotline to receive the complaints, eventually using a button app to collect noise complaints. Data provided by the Noise Office of each airport: San Diego International Airport- Lindbergh Field (SAN), Phoenix International Airport (PHX), Baltimore-Washington International –Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The FAA seems to be less concerned about the effects of air traffic on the ground and more concerned with other aspects of air travel.
FAA’s Metroplex Next Gen plan suggests that a primary purpose to funnel flight paths rather than fan them out in areas is to increase on time arrivals and departures, using GPS tracking systems for planes and weather. However, Denver International Airport (DIA)’s website claims to be rated 4th in the world for on-time arrivals and departures.
You may ask, how can the new Metroplex plan that funnels traffic going North, South, East and West rather than spreading out the traffic improve that on time arrivals and departures?
Please voice your opinion, questions and/or concerns before December 20, 2019 to the FAA online at this link: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/community_involvement/den/community_comments/
Gilpin Residents Resisting increased flight traffic (GRRift) may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to join the emailed updates, send your contact information, or share your comment posted with the FAA. Making a phone call to the Gilpin County Commissioners could also provide contact information for the FAA at 303-582-5214.