PLATTSBURGH — As the South Burlington community continues to haggle over whether it wants F-35 fighter jets to be stationed there, some North Country officials are still ready to play host.
But the reality of the jets ever coming to Plattsburgh International Airport, which is situated on the flight line of the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base, does not seem likely.
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“We would have to rebuild the whole west side of the flight line, and I just don’t see that happening,” said Clinton County Legislator Robert Heins (R-Area 10, City of Plattsburgh), who chairs the county’s Airport Committee.
“I would love to entertain them, but we can’t spend $20 million.”
The idea of Plattsburgh hosting the controversial aircraft came up last year as the debate across the lake broiled on. Many residents in South Burlington do not want the F-35s to be located at Burlington International Airport, mainly because of noise issues.
The Air Force is analyzing five locations for the F-35s, including South Burlington, which along with Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah, are preferred sites.
The other sites are Mountain Home AFB in Idaho, Shaw AFB in Sumter, S.C., and Jacksonville Air Guard Station in Florida.
South Burlington residents are concerned about a revised environmental impact study that recently showed the noise could be more of a concern than initially reported. There were also concerns about potential accident zones near the flight line.
The Air Force said all five sites are still under review, and a decision will not be made until the environmental analysis is complete.
“The Air Force has no plans to base F-35s at Plattsburgh,” a statement from Air Force Media Operations Officer Ann Stefanek said.
‘NOT MUCH ENTHUSIASM’
Legislator Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac) raised the issue at last week’s legislature meeting, wondering if the county’s interest had received any response.