Opposition to F-35s: Emerson East Neighborhood Association of Madison

Dear Mr. Ramon Ortiz and elected representatives, [listed below]

The Emerson East Neighborhood Association is dedicated to improving our area as a place to live, work and recreate, with an emphasis on social and environmental sustainability.

Our neighborhood association recently voted unanimously to oppose the siting of F-35A fighter jets in Madison, Wisconsin. All the available information, including our current experiences with F-16 flights, indicates that the impact of the F-35s on our neighborhood and others on Madison’s northeast side would be significant and negative.

Reasons for opposing the F-35s include:
⦁ The disproportionate impact on low-income households and communities of color. As the City’s analysis of the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) notes, “Nearly every impacted area within the City of Madison belongs to a census tract with rates of persons of color well above the city- and county-wide averages,” as well as “poverty rates above the city-wide average.” Healthy neighborhoods are diverse and welcoming. The F35s would exacerbate already significant racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in Madison.
⦁ The disproportionate impact on children. The City’s analysis of the EIS identifies 13 childcare locations and 16 schools within or adjacent to the 65 decibel day night average noise level (DNL) contour. Known health impacts of long-term exposure to similar noise levels include increased stress, decreased school performance, hearing impairment and hypertension.

⦁ Limited, poor or no options for sound mitigation. Under a best case scenario, some housing where residents are significantly impacted by noise may be able to access soundproofing measures, but this option will only become available years after F-35s start flying, and only to structures within the 65 DNL contour. Such funding would not be available to residents of the mobile home park just west of the airport or to several subsidized or affordable housing facilities located just outside of the 65 DNL contour. The federal program that funds these noise mitigation measures requires local entities to provide matching funds covering at least ten percent of total costs. In addition, there is no sound mitigation that could reduce the impact on our playgrounds, parks, athletic fields, bicycle and pedestrian trails, or beloved outdoor summer events.
⦁ The disproportionate impact on affordable housing. Emerson East and our surrounding neighborhoods are welcoming to young families, retirees and others with lower or fixed incomes because housing prices are more affordable here. As the City’s analysis of the EIS notes, within the 65 DNL contour, “rents are generally 10 to 20 percent lower than Madison’s median rent,” while homes and condominiums are assessed at roughly two-thirds of the median rate in Madison overall.
⦁ The likely reduction in home values. Siting the F-35s here would make northeast Madison a significantly less desirable place to live, work or recreate. Home values would drop, taking from our neighbors equity they worked hard over many years to grow.
⦁ The need to address PFAS water contamination. Truax Airfield is the major known source of PFAS (per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances) in the Madison area. Before Well 15 was taken offline in March 2019, the Emerson East neighborhood received up to 20% of our drinking water from that well. The City’s analysis of the EIS says that PFAS testing required by the state has yet to be carried out at Truax, because “the Department of Defense does not consider this a priority site. … It is anticipated that PFAS from the 115 Fighter Wing will continue to contaminate City of Madison unit well #15 for decades to come.”

Therefore, the Emerson East Neighborhood Association urges the U.S. Air Force to remove Madison from its list of potential host sites for the F-35A fighter jets. We also call on our elected officials to publicly and vigorously oppose the siting of F-35s here.


Sara Hinkel
Co-chair, Emerson East Neighborhood Association

October 20, 2019

To: Mr. Ramon Ortiz, U.S. Air Force, via email: usaf.jbanafw.ngb-a4.mbx.a4a-nepa-comments@mail.mil
Mayor Rhodes-Conway, via email: Mayor@cityofmadison.com
Madison Common Council, via email: Allalders@cityofmadison.com
County Executive Parisi, via email: Parisi@countyofdane.com
Dane County Board, via email: County_board_recipients@countyofdane.com
U.S. Senator Baldwin, 709 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
U.S. Senator Johnson, 328 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
U.S. Representative Pocan, 1421 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515