BOISE -- The potential for an F-35 fighter jet mission to be based at Boise's Gowen Field Air National Guard Base continues to garner both support and opposition, as Boise has been narrowed down to one of five sites across the country considered for a future mission.
Two events took place on Thursday evening where discussions were held about the topic. The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce held a mixer event at Gowen Field to give people the opportunity to learn more about the Idaho National Guard. There was also information available about F-35 jets.
Meanwhile, at a Vista Neighborhood Association meeting, the main focus was a panel presentation and discussion with experts specifically about the F-35 jets.
For some who live near the airport and on the Boise Bench, noise, pollution and quality of life are major concerns. The group "Citizens for a Livable Boise" says they're not against the jets, but they want the government to tell them exactly what the negative impacts will be.
"Noise is perspective and everybody needs to be [respectful] of that. You have an idea of what's noisy and offensive, I have an idea of what's noisy and offensive. But when it starts affecting the environment, lifestyles, I think everyone needs to take notice," co-founder of Citizens for a Livable Boise, Dan Marler, said. "This whole issue goes beyond just noise. We need to see the whole picture and we need to everybody to be well-informed."
According to a forecasted sound contour study at the Boise Airport/Gowen Field, the amount of households affected by aircraft noise would increase from 89 houses to 270 by the year 2020 if the F-35 mission is based here.
But for city, state and federal leaders, the economic gains - including maintaining and gaining jobs - far outweigh any other factors.
"It's a true economic driver. But more importantly than that, a simple thing and the reason the Chamber is so supportive, is because we believe in Gowen Field and the men and women who serve here," Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bill Connors told KTVB, "And quite frankly, if you don't have a flying mission at your base, there's a good likelihood you won't have that base any longer. So really the F-35 is all about the long-term viability of Gowen Field."
The F-35 jets would replace the A-10 fighters currently operating at Gowen. If chosen, there would be 18 to 24 jets based in Boise starting in 2021-2022. The City of Boise spokesperson tells KTVB the United States Air Force will likely visit Gowen Field in June, and the city expects a decision later this summer.