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A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
W. H
Chapter 8
tion personal. And once it got personal, the
conversation began to flow. For the better
part of an hour we sipped coffee and chatted
about the "what ifs."
Someone at the meeting, I can't remember
who, came up with the idea of moving the
runway almost entirely onto the Zschiesche
tract, therefore avoiding the pipeline alto-
gether and saving me a couple of million in
pipeline moving costs, thus (and no one said
this out loud) freeing up monies that I might
be able to pay to the Zschiesches in a higher
sales price.
Back at my home office that evening I did
some quick calculations, what it might cost me
to: (a) purchase the entire Zschiesche prop-
erty and not move the runway, and (b) buy the
Zschiesche property and move the runway in
such a way to avoid crossing the pipeline.
Option A--buy and don't move--resulted
in a shorter road from SH130 to the airport,
ergo, saving me around four hundred thou-
sand dollars in road costs.
Option B--buy and move--initially saved
me a couple of million in pipeline relocation
costs, and at the same time soaked me for up to
ten times that depending on how badly things
got mucked up in the process. For example,
did moving the runway weaken my case
against LCRA, and if I did nudge the runway
roundabout and LCRA put up towers block-
ing the new flight path (which I wouldn't put
past them), would I then, on my own dime, be
forced to have the towers taken down and the
power lines put underground? And I'd have
more road to build, not less, leading to the re-
located terminal building, and extra dirt work
and engineering; and what about the cost for
a whole new set of construction drawings?
What would all that cost? I didn't know, ex-
actly, but I had a guess.
To fully and accurately evaluate Option B, I
needed a penny-pinching bean counter; a band
of engineers (construction, environmental,
water resource, transportation); a construc-
tion lawyer; a real estate lawyer (it wouldn't
hurt to have an aviation attorney on my side,
one with the tenacity of a dog bite lawyer); an
aeronautical strategist with an in at the FAA;
a marketing guru (to tell me which, A or B,
would likely grow a critical mass of pilots
faster and to answer the ten thousand dollar
question: which would sell more aviation fuel,
the life blood of any airport); a futurist (to tell
me if twenty years from now Austin and the
world even needed what I was selling); a rea-
sonably accurate clairvoyant with experience
in critical path analysis (to point out which
unanticipated catastrophe might hit me first);
and weeks to evaluate all the what ifs--none
of which I had. To answer all this, I cleared
my mind, put on my expert hat, and listed my
best guess at the cost to solve every issue in
option A and option B.
Best case, I might save $450,000.
Worst case, I could spend close to $17 mil-
lion and get absolutely the same result.
Put in such simple financial terms, moving
the runway struck me as a bad idea.
A day after my meeting with the Zschie-
sche family, I received an e-mail from Craig
Zschiesche, who said he was speaking on
behalf of the family. Craig politely offered to
sell the entire property for $17,000 per acre. I