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Rick Nease, Detroit Free Press/MCT

Twin Cities flight paths, it seems, are very personal

  • Article by: MARGARET MCRAITH
  • November 26, 2012 - 7:40 PM

I live on the west side of Lake Nokomis -- virtually under a flight path. My husband talked me into moving into this house in 1989. He loved the house. The study to determine whether the airport would be moved to a location with more land and fewer people was just getting underway. I reluctantly agreed, saying: "I can't believe they'll destroy the quality of life in this beautiful city by leaving the airport in the middle of it."

So, I was wrong back then about how decisions are made, and about who wins. And I am even more surprised and disappointed by the latest antics to keep the noise "anywhere but here."

Judging from the results of the latest outcry ("Homeowner ire deflects plane noise: Commissioners compromise on plan for major shift in MSP flight paths," Nov. 20), if people had united back then, during the airport location deliberations, there would have been a different outcome. But people were divided by their selfish interests then, too.

My relatives who live in the western suburbs just said: "Move -- you're crazy to live there." I have never thought that it was right to have my conveniences and leave other poor suckers to suffer. It was clear that there would be more flights as the population increased and as people traveled more frequently for work and pleasure.

Now, my relatives say we should never have left the airport in the middle of the city with no place to expand except over densely populated areas.

In the intervening years, those who were not affected did not even pay attention to the gradual rolling back of the restrictions we worked so hard to get put in place -- restrictions on hours, noise levels, etc. I'm guessing people in Edina and the areas of south Minneapolis who were scheduled to have a little bit more airport noise under the proposed plan like the convenience of having the airport nearby rather than in Dakota County or Anoka.

The amazing thing is that, by the time the airport study was over, I couldn't hear the planes anymore. I love the neighborhood, the lake, the parkway, and easy access to the freeway and both cities. Of course I like peace and quiet as much as the next person, but I know that every place has its tradeoffs. In Edina, it's the leaf-blowers. At the lake, it's the jet skis and snowmobiles.

As the world becomes more global -- and science is proving that we all affect and are affected by one another -- I naively thought that we would understand that there is no free lunch. There are no actions without consequences. Truly, we are all affected by the decisions that most directly impact the few.

Who wins? The airlines. The argument didn't become: How can we work together to come up with a solution that provides the lowest impact for all, with a little give and take, and places the pressure on the noisemakers to find ways to mitigate it -- like using quieter planes.

It makes me sad (if not necessarily surprised) to see the selfishness and mean-spiritedness of people toward each other. When are we as a culture going to learn that we can't have what we want when we want it all the time? Not yet, I guess.

If we don't learn to work together as people and communities, it is going to get uglier and uglier. I suppose the people in Edina (or wherever NIMBY is this week) can make themselves feel better by volunteering for the "poor," but they fail to see how poor in spirit they are.

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Margaret McRaith, of Minneapolis is a holistic physical therapist.

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