SMAAC to stage 40th anniversary Party Aug. 20

The South Metro Airport Action Council (SMAAC) will hold a 40th Anniversary Celebration from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20 at Veterans Memorial Park, E. 64th St. and Portland Ave. S, Richfield.

The picnic marks three milestones in the citizen watchdog group's evolution:
The first induction of SMAAC volunteers and public officials into a new SMAAC Hall of Fame.

Winning the 2007 consent decree requiring the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) to spend an additional $127 million for noise mitigation helping 5,286 residential units around the airport. MAC had not lost a citizen lawsuit in its 65-year history.

The unveiling of an expanded mission statement for the next decade: to monitor aviation safety, pollution and related economic development activities in the metro area.

The new Hall of Fame honors persons who led in the public's objections to jet noise over neighborhoods adjacent to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). The first class covers the years between 1968-1986.

The court-ordered mitigation settlement, while welcome, falls far short of the 1996 commitment by MAC to install the same noise-reduction package as it did for homes closer to the airport from 1992-2005. The $147 million settlement was less than the $350 million estimated for the work when promised in the 1990's as part of MSP expansion.

SMAAC is also vigorously questioning air and ground safety co-ordination at MSP, beginning with an incomplete investigation of the very serious airliner collision in May 2005. Responsibilities for safety are divided among the MAC, the FAA, and the airlines.

Environmental regulation and enforcement at MSP and its six reliever airports is unusual and legally exempt from local government reviews.

The $3 billion expansion program finished in 2005 with the opening of the new north-south runway has failed to attract low-cost airlines or to relieve the high fares charged to local travelers as sought by the 1996 state legislature. This is partly due to untoward agreements with Northwest Airlines, whose hub operations at MSP have been supported with loans, operating policies, fee concessions, and capital improvements.

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