Seeking an end to an impasse, Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski has proposed a six-month truce in the city's continuing struggle to control noise and expansion at Burbank Airport.
Golonski's call for a "cooling off' period was quickly denounced by longtime airport critic and councilman Ted McConkey, whose reaction at a meeting Tuesday showed a split in the united front the council has so far shown on the airport.
At stake is how and when the popular airport expands. The city has told the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, which runs the facility, that no expansion should take place until a mandatory nighttime curfew on noisy flights is imposed.
Tempers flared last week with the disclosure that the authority was secretly negotiating for the purchase of land needed for expansion. The city has asserted that a new terminal cannot be built without its blessing.
Golonski and Vice Mayor Susan Spano outlined a possible resolution after attending a joint meeting with council members and city managers from Glendale and Pasadena, with whom Burbank shares control of the airport authority.
They suggested a six-month cooling off period in which the authority will agree not to take any actions that would result in the acquisition of any land; the selection of a mediator by a steering committee made up of the mayor, a council member and an airport commissioner from each city, and the development of an agreement that would be acceptable to all parties at the end of the cooling off period.
At the council meeting Monday, McConkey said his fellow council members are being naive if they think the authority will adhere to any agreement.
"These people have no intention of allowing us to control the airport," McConkey told the council late Tuesday. "I don't trust them and you shouldn't either."
Golonski said he resented McConkey's comments and reminded him that the entire council is fully aware of the history between the two bodies. He said nevertheless a move must be made now to resolve the issue because the land deal is 15 to 60 days away from being completed.
"Well, I'll be the odd man out in this love fest," McConkey retorted.
Other members of the council stepped in to try to cool things off. "I agree with Ted," said Councilman Bob Kramer. "But we shouldn't be talking about this in open session. We have a lot of enemies and it is important that the five of us stay united."
The recommendations come a week after Vince Marafino, vice president of Lockheed Martin, told Golonski that the airport has secretly been negotiating a cash deal to buy about 140 acres of land to build a replacement terminal.
A cash purchase, in contrast with going into debt, would not require the approval of the Burbank City Council under the deal for running the airport.
McConkey said part of his distrust stems from a recent letter he received from authority president Carl Raggio. The letter states that the goal of the airport authority is to "buy the land necessary from Lockheed Martin and build a new terminal building." In the letter Raggio denied that the authority is trying to circumvent Burbank's legal powers.
The letter also states that the authority's desire to purchase the land has been public knowledge since 1990, when the authority commissioned an environmental impact report for land acquisition and a replacement terminal project.