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City pays Davis and Silesky $375K for airport development documents

ARLINGTON While more than a decade of negotiations for development of the Arlington Municipal Airports west side recently ended without a deal being struck, its conclusion has paved the way for new progress.
Arlington Airport Manager Rob Putnam explained that, as early as 1997, Davis and Silesky had wanted to acquire 285 acres on the airports west side, but the FAA declined to approve this initial offer.
It would have wrapped all the way up to the ultra-light center, Putnam said. We worked to cut it down, but by 2000, we were updating our master plan, in which we had to look out 50 years in the future and prove that whatever land went to them wouldnt be needed.
The offer was revised to 115 acres, 89 acres of which would be developable lots, to accommodate the airport protection zone, but the FAA would not approve the 75-year lease which Davis and Silesky had requested.
In the end, they made us an offer to buy the documents they had produced, Putnam said. Without those documents, wed have to go through the permitting process all over again and make sure that none of our new studies could be seen as simply duplicating the findings of previous work. This way, its a clean break for both sides.
On Feb. 19, the Arlington City Council approved the purchase of Davis and Sileskys documents for $375,000. Putnam estimates this saved the city three to four years in repeating the process, which consulting firms informed him would have cost $300,000-$500,000.
With Putnam admitting that other firms have already expressed an interest in developing the airports west side, City Council member Graham Smith has resolved to turn dirt within the year.
My goal is to set a timeframe and start the motion of development, Smith said. Economic development has to be our top priority, since the days of cities supporting themselves on property taxes are over. The west side development is critical to the health of the city.
Putnam and Smith are among the city officials who will take part in committee workshops to address the west side development, in a way that Smith compared to the planning that preceded the Olympic Avenue project.
This ties into the 172nd Street development, since the airport is a major piece of property along that strip, so if were widening and beautifying that road, why not design both projects at the same time? Smith said. Especially with the new fire station coming in, it makes sense to try and tie them all together, and save our citizens some money.

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