The Shumlin Administration says it’s working to answer questions about the Air Force’s plan to base F-35 fighter jets at Burlington International Airport.
Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding met Thursday afternoon with city and town officials from Williston, Winooski, Burlington and South Burlington to discuss the basing.
The Governor supports the plan, but Spaulding says Shumlin wants to be sure the state and those communities are doing everything they can to get answers to environmental concerns.
"We’d like to be helpful in making sure that we have a coordinated effort to get objective information in a forum that is easily digestible and understood," Spaulding said. "I think right now most Vermonters are busy and don’t have time to read an environmental impact statement that is hundreds and hundreds of pages."
Spaulding says Thursday’s meeting was constructive, and it’s clear that there’s growing demand to disseminate more "digestible information" about the potential basing.
"We talked about having a website that had frequently asked questions," Spaulding recalled. "We talked about getting one of the F-35s up here or potentially sending a delegation from Vermont down to someplace where they can actually compare the noise of the F-35s to the F-16s."
Rosanne Greco is chair of South Burlington’s City Council, which has come out against the plan. A retired U.S. Air Force colonel, Greco says the selection of Burlington International as a preferred location for the F-35s was flawed because she says the Air Force considered the noise created by existing F-16s – not F-35s.
"If you want to know what the F-35 will do, you ask the question about the F-35 not another aircraft," Greco said. "That seemed to be an error in the process."
The Shumlin Administration says that it hopes the Air Force is still early in the early stages of its selection process, and that by November it will be clear that Vermont welcomes the F-35s.