Despite some objections from his fellow alders, District 4 Alder Al Guyant’s resolution to recognize the 115th Fighter Wing and show support for basing F-35As at Truax Field Air National Guard Base received unanimous approval from alders on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Guyant told the council that he has made it his mission to support active duty military personnel ever since he returned from Vietnam and received a less than welcoming reception from protesters.
The resolution supports the work of the more than 100 Sun Prairie residents who are members or employees of the award-winning 115th Fighter Wing.
It also states support for the effort to locate the F-35A aircraft at Truax. Earlier this year, after reviewing 18 potential locations and the 115th Fighter Wing’s best-in-class record, the U.S. Air Force selected Truax Field Air National Guard Base as the preferred location for one of the next two Air National Guard F-35A bases.
The mission has been the subject of some controversy, as residents near the base have expressed concern about the lack of responsiveness from the Air Force about noise abatements. Second District Congressional Rep. Mark Pocan recently had his request for side-by-side noise testing of the current F-16 and the new F-35A aircraft rejected.
The resolution notes that for 71 years, Sun Prairie residents have participated in the uninterrupted Air Force mission at Truax Field, and the F-35As will be the tenth different air frame flown from Truax Field. The mission is expected to maintain and enhance the Sun Prairie economic impact of the 115th Fighter Wing by continuing its $100 million of economic output and 1,659 in-state jobs and creating 64 new jobs at the base.
The resolution states, “the 115th Fighter Wing has a long history of being a good neighbor to Dane County Regional Airport, has worked cooperatively with the airport in the past to mitigate noise impacts by adjusting flight patterns and flight times and making significant infrastructure investments, and has indicated that the F-35 provides further opportunities to mitigate noise impacts, including almost completely eliminating afterburner use at the airport.”
The resolution also calls on the state to participate, with the Dane County Regional Airport as a partner, in the Federal Aviation Administration program to mitigate or abate noise.
Guyant pointed out a fact repeated in the resolution: that the 115th Fighter Wing has mobilized in response to statewide emergencies and natural disasters; and responded locally to incidents at the airport and in the surrounding community, including the recent fire at the Blount Street electrical substation in Madison.
But the resolution drew complaints from alders who wondered how it found its way to the council agenda. “I think I was a little surprised to see this on our agenda,” remarked District 1 Alder Emily Lindsey, who said she knows the issue remains a divisive one for residents near Truax.
“A lot of those folks, they are not wealthy people,” Lindsey said. She said she would support the resolution, but said she wished the council could have had a conversation about how the noise remediation issue is being handled.
District 3 Alder Maureen Crombie also voiced concern, echoing sentiments aired by Lindsey. She said her son lives in the area near the air base, and noted that Hawthorne Elementary School is located near the base.
“They’re not really addressing the noise,” Crombie told the council, adding that she hoped the federal government will take more steps to address the noise concerns. She also said she’s heard from residents in the Providence neighborhood who also do not favor the F-35A mission at Truax.
“I just wish there were more answers,” Crombie added.
Additional recycling containers rejected
Alders split on the question of whether to locate more recycling bins at the Sun Prairie Recycle Center, 1798 S. Bird St., as part of a 2020 budget initiative. Earlier this summer, alders asked staff to evaluate the cost of having single sort recycling containers at the Recycle Center. The containers would be available for residents with excess recyclables that do not fit into their curbside recycle carts.
Covered containers are needed for collection of recycling and are to be located on a solid surface. The largest covered container offered are eight-yard units and each one would require a 10-foot-by-10-foot concrete pad.
On Aug. 13, 2019, the Public Works Committee voted 4-1 to recommend staff’s recommendation of not adding single sort recycling containers at the Recycle Center.
Public Works Director Lee Igl said he did not support the addition of more bins to the center. A memo to alders stated Pellitteri, the city’s waste hauler, already has two programs in place for excess recyclables that residents have on a regular or irregular basis. Those two programs put the cost directly on the user.
But District 2 Alder Theresa Stevens said she has seen “really well done” centers in other states that use separate bins for each recyclable product. “That’s really what I’m after — being able to call this an actual Recycle Center,” Stevens said.
The center accepts materials that are not collected curbside. The facility is available for use by City of Sun Prairie residents receiving city-sponsored automated curbside refuse / recycle collections. Users must have a permit/sticker to access the facility.
The center accepts grass, leaves and garden waste; brush, yard waste, appliances without freon, oil absorbants, oil filters, waste motor oil, antifreeze, scrap metal and flattened cardboard.
Stevens sought the addition of receptacles that would accept recyclables such as glass and plastic.
Guyant said he wanted to give it a try for the estimated $11,000 cost. “There’s probably enough people in town who will make that trip because they want to be good citizens,” he added.
Lindsey said she would support the request, because if the city wants to remain sustainable, “this is a small price.” She also questioned the need for additional personnel at the center because she thought existing personnel should be able to handle the traffic associated with residents bringing recyclables to the center to sort into the provided bins.
But Igl questioned it: “The main reason is I don’t see a lot of demand for this.”
District 2 Alder and City Council President Bill Connors said he voted against it at the Public Works Committee and would vote for it as a 2020 budget initiative. “It’s completely unnecessary,” he added.
Alders voted 5-3 to defeat the initiative, with Stevens, Lindsey and Guyant voting in favor.