U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s office announced last week that the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs is receiving a federal grant to conduct community outreach, noise mitigation planning, and prepare for arrival of F-35 fighter jets at Madison’s Truax Field.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin announced that the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs (WDMA) is receiving a $798,000 grant from the Department of Defense to conduct community outreach, noise mitigation planning, and prepare for the F-35s arrival at Truax Field.
“I am proud to help deliver resources to plan for the arrival of the F-35s and make this project work for the Madison community,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am committed to continuing to listen to and work with the Dane County community to ensure that the 115th Fighter Wing is a good steward of our land, air, and water, including creating and implementing a plan to mitigate noise for those in the area.”
“We are grateful to Sen Baldwin and OLDCC for supporting our efforts to ensure that the concerns of the communities around Truax Field are heard and addressed,” said Major General Knapp, Wisconsin Adjutant General. “With this grant, we are excited to partner with Dane County Regional Airport through increased community engagement and continued emphasis on compatible use best management practices. As a result, we hope to achieve community awareness and noise mitigation solutions that will last into the future.”
“The Dane County Regional Airport recognizes the importance of engaging our neighboring residents in two-way conversations on topics that matter to all of us,” said Kim Jones, Airport Director at the Dane County Regional Airport. “We are grateful to Senator Baldwin for leading the effort to secure the resources that will set us up for success in partnering on those conversations.”
The grant will fund community outreach initiatives – including town halls and multilingual education initiatives – and prepare a feasibility study to assess noise mitigation options for impacted neighborhoods and develop best practices for mitigation. The grant was awarded by the Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Corporation which provides technical and financial assistance to states and local governments to analyze and implement actions necessary to foster, protect and enhance military installation sustainability.
Members of of a group opposing the jets are underwhelmed. “I think it’s just incredible hypocrisy, the whole thing,” said Tom Boswell, a community organizer with the group Safe Skies Clean Water. “Particularly this idea that she’s going to give us a grant to do community outreach and noise mitigation. We’ve been trying to talk to her for four years now and she has been totally unreceptive.”
Boswell called the $798,000 grant from the Department of Defense “chump change,” and cited the costs of the next generation, nuclear capable fighter jets. “I don’t know if the public is aware that each one of those jets cost $110 million. That’s the real price of them. And so that means 20 times 110 million comes out to something like $200 million. That’s just the price to bring jets here.”
Opponents of the jets cite concerns about noise, and claim efforts to mitigate that in the neighborhoods surrounding the Wisconsin Air National Guard base at Truax will fall short of what’s needed. They’re also worried about PFAs contamination.
“I don’t have the words to describe how dismissive and minimizing she is of the magnitude of the threats,” said Safe Skies Leader Ellen Magee in a press release. Baldwin’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The first F-35s are expected to arrive this spring.