Comment: Reroute of Harvey Field runway not worth flood risk

Without a projected need for expansion, the work risks flooding impacts to wildlife and residents.

By Candace McKenna / For The Herald

Keeping a plane at Harvey Field is how I first discovered the City of Snohomish, where I subsequently chose to put down roots and happily raise my children.

Over the more than 35 years I’ve lived here, I’ve enjoyed a balloon ride, launched from Harvey, stopped to admire parachutes opening when I heard the plane carrying sky divers cut their engine, and been thankful for the emergency vehicles that can use Harvey Field as a base as needed. Harvey Field enhances my home community of Snohomish.

According to the FAA, there is no projected increase in aircraft traffic or demand for Harvey Field. Nearby Paine Field and Arlington Muncipal Airport easily accommodate larger planes and other uses requiring a longer runway. Yet Harvey Field has put forward yet another plan to expand without giving a credible reason why this will be a public good (“Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback,” The Herald, May 17). The facts have changed little in the 20 years since their proposal was first put forth, and this time all facts still point to saying “no” again to the proposed expansion.

Harvey Field is thriving now as it has for the past 80 years. The Federal Aviation Administration is not threatening to shut it down as a privately owned airfield. It can continue to thrive in its current configuration.

Harvey Field’s managers claim it they needs to expand to meet FAA regulations, but the reality is that the FAA would only require that Harvey Field meet these regulations if they proceed with expansion.

Harvey Field has already received $2.5 million dollars in taxpayer-funded grants to study just this latest proposed but completely optional expansion. Harvey Field has received more than $4 million in the past 10 years including $1 million in 2021 to reconstruct the current runway.

The plan introduces significant potential to disrupt the existing levee system. By putting 9.3 acres of fill into Hanson Slough, this critical floodwater conveyance would no longer function as it currently does. The current study that purports to address flooding concerns by putting in box culverts did not consult Snohomish County floodplain hydraulic engineers, the Marshland Flood Control district, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (which has funded local levee improvements) or the Army Corps of Engineers, which has acted when levees were breached and repaired our levees.

If expansion is approved, our road infrastructure will be stressed for at least two years as many trucks carrying fill are added to Airport Way, Springhetti Road and Highway 9. There are no plans to improve the capacity of the new road.

The impacts to wildlife, especially fish, are unknown at this time and still under study.

Our beloved farmlands will be at risk for flooding, as a result from changes to a sound flood management structure.

I urge you to use the avenues available to us to express outrage of our use of taxpayer dollars for private gain, at the same time disrupting traffic at an already highly congested intersection, introducing risk to local wildlife, and making unnecessary and potentially damaging changes to flood control.

Urge the Snohomish County Council to not give this the status of a Public Works Project and grant a conditional use permit which would allow the rerouting of Airport Way and change the current flood management in that area. Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers can be reached at dave.somers@co.snohomish.wa.us; or 3000 Rockefeller Ave., M/S 407. Everett, WA 98201

Submitted comments will be reviewed by the FAA on the project website at harveyfieldimprovements.com, or email them to cyndyh@harveyfield.com or mail them to Cynthia Hendrickson, Airport Manager, 9900 Airport Way, Snohomish, WA 98296.

Candace McKenna lives in Snohomish. She has served on the Snohomish School Board and on the board of public radio station KSER. She worked as a computational linguist at Microsoft for 25 years before retiring.

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