Wednesday, December 20

We Need to Put Up or Shut Up

Let me be clear; Great Falls and Cascade county would be fools to allow any encroachment on Malmstrom's runway. Our future is tied to Malmstrom AFB. We need to give the Pentagon every assurance that we support the base.

If you think that they are not watching our local municipal decision here, you are crazy. Whether or not we allow any development in the runway's potential accident zone will send a message straight to Arlington about whether or not we support the Air Force here. We need to send a full throated vote of support.

If we don't, I suggest you look to places like Havre and Fort Benton. Because within a very few short years, Great Falls will very strongly resemble those places. If we are lucky, we will be as successful as Shelby.

Not that my 2¢ means much, but I will work to oppose any city, county or state politician that votes to allow encroachment. I work hard to not be a single-issue voter, but this one is too important for the future of our town.

HOWEVER, we need to put our money in place of our mouths. We could not, and should not, take away property owner's rights to their own property without fully reimbursing them. To do otherwise would be as bad as stealing these landowner's property.

Whatever the vehicle used (an easement, eminent domain, etc.), the city and/or the county needs to buy that land and lock it away from development for as long as it takes. What's more, we should pay whatever the appraised value of that land would be if they were allowed their development.


R M said...

With all due respect,

I think that viewpoint is misguided. Do you really think it is smart for a city to rely solely upon one source for survival (which is what you implied)? What Great Falls needs to do is decide to be a town in it's own right. Grow and strengthen like many other cities in the United States have done. Then, if and when Malmstrom closes Great Falls won't be crippled.

I also disagree that people in Washington, D.C., really care if we build around the runway. Have you seen the condition of the runway? Why can't people just accept the fact that Malmstrom's missiles are the mission, not flying? In my opinion, that's a good thing -- ICBM's are a heck of a lot harder to move than a few airplanes. I don't see the base closing anytime soon based on that alone.

Also, there have been many other towns across the nation who really supported their base and wished it would never close. Yet they closed anyway. If you think the folks in D.C. give a hoot about what the people here want, I think you are sadly mistaken. It comes down to dollar signs and needs of the Air Force -- nothing more, nothing less.\

GeeGuy said...

I'm with you, TSJ. When deciding which bases to close, there is always a scoring system. Encroachment is one element of scoring. In a close 'case' between us and another base, do we want to see MAFB closed because we encroached?

And, RM, what you say is not wrong, per se, but it is an overly restrictive viewpoint. We can try to position ourselves for the time when the base might close while also working to avoid that eventuality.

Treasure State Jew said...


You are right. It is likely that someday Malmstrom will close. However, we need to do all we can to try to keep that someday from becoming today or tomorrow. Attracting other missions to the base is the best way to do that.

ICBMs are a good thing for our town. However, that is a whole lot of eggs (40% of our city's economy) in one pretty fragile basket. One policy decision (in today's climate unlikely but who knows about tomorrow's) could end the ICBM mission. Then, the base would DEFINITELY close. Multiple missions make an installation more important to the powers that be in Arlington and DC.

Do we need to diversify and strengthen our economy away from its current dependence on the base? You bet we do. We need to build an independent economy based upon our resources and assets. I suggest that we have started to do that with the attracting of the Pasta Plant, the Malt Plant, AvMax, etc. However, any reasonable analysis will show that it will take a generation to get from where we are to where we need to be.

In the meanwhile (and even after), we need to do all we can to keep the base here. Is it worth losing a few condos or box stores so that the Malmstrom runway won't be marked as "encroached" on some spreadsheet on the E ring of the Pentagon? You bet it is worth that price. The condos and box stores can be built 250 feet away and still be just as effective at separating customers from their paychecks.