Congressman All Ears on GJ Airport Fence Controversy

Congressman All Ears on GJ Airport Fence Controversy

Don Coleman
POSTED: 12:41 am MST January 11, 2012UPDATED: 2:37 am MST January 11, 2012

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Business owners upset about Grand Junction’s new airport security fence are involving leaders on a national level. Tuesday night, the group appealed to Congressman Scott Tipton for help.”I don’t think it’s that the people aren’t coming, I think it’s that the gates are intimidating,” one businesswoman said at the meeting behind a closed security fence.Dozens more filled the crowd all with their own story of lost revenue and failing business. “Its like almost being in a morgue out here, right now,” Bob Erbisch with Aero Fuel said.

He has already shut his fuel pump down, plans to remove it in the coming weeks, and blames it all on the inconvenience of that security fence.”We either have to have someone waiting out there to open the gate for our customers or shuttle five in at a time,” a business owner said. “What [the airport] has done is passed the cost of security on to our employees.”While most are focused on the effect this fence is having on their bottom line, some accused that the airport of not having permission to build the gates until after they were already under construction.”The city is working with the county and the airport authority to find a solution to this problem,” Grand Junction Mayor Tom Kenyon explained at the meeting.What started as a grant-funded wildlife control fence a few years ago quickly morphed into a security project. Now, business owners say it’s not only keeping the animals out but deterring customers as well.”We just started getting things going and now the gates have gone up and it’s tough,” one businesswoman said.The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has even come out saying the fence is the most unusually severe security gate in all of America.

Still, these business owners say they are getting nowhere with the airport.”It does actually impact real people, real lives and real jobs,” Scott Tipton says of federally approved projects. “Washington needs to understand that.”If something doesn’t change soon, they say the general aviation community could evaporate. “We need to come up with some solutions together and soon because they’re losing hope fast,” Mayor Kenyon noted.”It’s too late for us, it’s too late for me,” Erbisch said of his refueling business. “But, it’s not too late for those that are upcoming.”Congressman Tipton hopes the issue can be resolved locally but says he will have no problem following it from Washington, D.C.Airport officials were not at the meeting because they say they were not invited. They are, however, willing to look at any alternative plans that meet TSA requirements.

Copyright 2010 KJCT.


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