The Madison City Council voted on Wednesday to approve a resolution asking the Air Force to reconsider housing F-35 fighter jets at Truax Field.
The Air Force proposed housing two squadrons of F-35 fighter jets at Truax Field, a military base located at the Dane County Airport. It’s one of five bases being considered in the Air Force proposal — and Truax Field is a top contender.
The resolution passed simply expresses the viewpoint of the council to the Air Force, who have the final decision as to whether Truax will be chosen to house the jets.
A draft environmental impact study was conducted to explore the effects of the Air Force’s proposal. The draft details economic benefits and new jobs, but also significant noise pollution, which would have a disproportionate effect on children and residents close to the location of the base — five miles northeast from the center of Madison.
Citizens in favor of housing the jets at Truax Field argue that it would help support the military and bring in significant economic revenue, according to Cap Times. Those opposed are concerned with noise pollution and feel that Madison is too residential for the jets to be appropriate for the city.
The draft projects the construction to build the F-35 beddown would create between 315 and 420 new jobs and between $90 to $120 million of construction activity. The construction would take roughly three years and be “mission capable” by 2025, according to Air Force estimates.
There was significant disagreement among city alders at the council meeting on the resolution, which ultimately was voted 16-3 in approval.
There’s a caveat in the final environmental impact study, though: the council’s resolution will ask the Air Force to reconsider Truax as a location if it doesn’t provide plans to reduce the noise and the number of training flights.
“The people who will shoulder the burden of the harmful consequences of the deployment of the F-35s are overwhelmingly telling us — their elected officials — they can’t take any more noise pollution,” Ald. Rebecca Kemble, District 18, said.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the Air Force is failing to address misconceptions in a statement. Conway pointed out that the draft EIS presents contradictory data about the level of noise pollution that would be produced by the jets.
“I am very disappointed in the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard’s failure to provide adequate information about this project and its potential impacts on our community,” Conway said in response to the environmental impact study. “The public deserves better information.”
Ultimately, the mayor recommended that the Air Force reevaluate their selection if the final EIS does not respond to the public's concerns and provide strategies to combat them.