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*Buchanan airport to stay put*

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Buchanan airport to stay put
By Ryan Huff

A developer has grounded his plan to move Buchanan Field.

Shapell Industries has called off its ambitious proposal to build 6,000
homes on the Concord airport site and move the runways to another Central
County location, said Contra Costa Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier.

The idea had always been a long shot because it didn't have the support of
the FAA or the private pilots who use the six-decade-old airport.

After two replacement sites near Martinez weren't feasible, Shapell tried to
line up support for a new airport between Highway 4 and the Carquinez Strait
Regional Shoreline. But its numerous hills would have made construction
costly and pilots had concerns about that area's fog and remote location.

In a letter to the county today, Shapell wrote that it simply couldn't find
a suitable Central County location.

"The sites that we have located are either not for sale, have been deemed
undesirable by the local pilots or have other constraints that seem
politically insurmountable at this time," said company President J.C.

With a September deadline looming to present a suitable plan to county
supervisors, Shapell decided to scrap the plan, said DeSaulnier, who first
proposed the idea of moving Buchanan in 2003.

Shapell will reimburse the county for any staff time spent on the project.

"As I recommended to the board, I think it was worth looking into if we
didn't spend taxpayer money," DeSaulnier said. "I think now the board needs
to get back to being re-energized about the existing airport and making it
as good as it can be."

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