background image
Page 171
AUSTIN EXECUTIVE AIRPORT
A History of Austin's Newest General Aviation Airport
R
on
W. H
enRiksen
Chapter 9
I fought the idea of spending more money
when it was clear no benefit would come of it,
but in the end I acquiesced. In October I met
with the deputy fire marshal and we came up
with several options that might be acceptable.
One idea was to install fire hydrants near the
terminal and hangar buildings with the source
of water either public water lines or on-site
storage tanks and fire pumps. A second op-
tion was to omit the hydrants and instead put
in place one or more sprinkler systems within
the terminal building and the attached large
corporate hangar but not the smaller T-han-
gars or shade structures.
After some discussion, we opted for a hy-
brid approach that included a new water line,
hydrants, and fire sprinklers in the terminal
and large hangar. The new water line and hy-
drants alone set me back $250,000, and Man-
ville WSC pitched in an additional $75,000 to
upgrade to a 16-inch line.
My Advice: Focus on
What's in Front of You
In the early days of constructing the airport,
I faced more than my share of unforeseen
problems. I had not one but two gas pipelines
to lower, a costly dispute with LCRA energy
company about power lines interfering with
our flight path, a lengthy series of talks with
my neighbor before buying her property, a
sinking runway, and ongoing wetland mitiga-
tion hassles. And most recently I had to con-
tend with a fire marshal who insisted on fol-
lowing the letter of the code when all logic
supported an alternative view.
Given the hurdles, it's no wonder so few
airports get built.
I ask myself if architects and builders and
city planners, as well as lowly airport develop-
ers, could envision what lies ahead, whether
they would ever begin a new project? If hav-
ing somehow seen the unforeseeable mishaps
and disappointments on the horizon, would
they bother to risk their money and take their
chances?
It's possible that I have this backwards.
In fact it's likely that not seeing the fu-
ture--the arguments and missed calculations
and pressures from special interest groups
and the sheer boneheadedness of some laws
which bureaucrats must follow--is the very
thing that allows people like me to invest tens
of millions of my own money without any
guarantee of making a profit. In many ways,
not knowing what's around the corner is one
of the keys to progress.