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Boulder Chamber Opposes Airport Closure

boulder airport

June 27, 2024

After months of careful consideration and analysis, including direct feedback from our membership, the Boulder Chamber is firmly opposed to decommissioning the Boulder Municipal Airport.  

There are significant economic vitality, transportation, and public safety benefits of access to this community asset that far outweigh the red-herring argument for converting our municipal airport to future housing. The Boulder Chamber also is concerned about the risk of exposing Boulder to a costly lawsuit with the FAA and the further tens of millions of dollars in expense associated with operating the airport during the continuing FAA “grant assurance” period without state and federal funding support. This is on top of the enormous economic impact that the loss of our centrally located municipal aviation facility will have on our community, with research and business activity that operates out of the airport forced to move, along with the lost opportunity to participate in future aviation technology development. 

Before reaching our decision, the Community Affairs Council met twice with proponents and opponents of efforts to decommission the Boulder Municipal Airport, including discussions with Councilmembers Matt Benjamin and Mark Wallach. We also conducted our own research into the utility and economic benefits of the airport facility. Finally, we considered the still murky legal constraints against the airport closure that the City of Boulder would face in a decommissioning effort.   

Those in favor of closing the airport highlight concerns about airplane noise for those who purchased homes near the airport and proposals to convert the airport land to housing. However, closing the Boulder Municipal Airport will remove the airspace that protects large swaths of Boulder from airplane noise associated with flight operations out of Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. Further, while the Boulder Chamber continues to advocate strongly for affordable workforce housing (which is why we will support their second ballot item to prioritize affordable housing should the airport close), there are many less expensive and risky housing development options across our community, including further infill redevelopment and the Area III Planning Reserve, which is more than twice the size of the airport.  

The Boulder Chamber also warns that our fiscally constrained municipal budget can’t afford another legal adventure that reminds us of the Boulder Chamber’s caution against the costly efforts to municipalize the electric power grid. Even if we win the ballot measure, it will be akin to a dog catching the car. We will be on the hook for millions of dollars to operate the airport for the remaining 18 years on our grant assurances with the Federal Aviation Administration, including enormously expensive resurfacing. What City of Boulder transportation, recreation or public safety programs will we then need to cut to address these new expenses? Further, we anticipate bearing the high cost of toxic land remediation before the airport would even be suitable for housing.  

Finally, wearing our economic vitality hat, it’s important to recognize that many companies and scientific institutions rely on access to the airport for their research and development activities (aside from businesses that use the airport for flight training and recreation). These companies and institutions tell us they will have to move their activities and/or businesses to other communities with the closure of the airport. That’s a total estimated annual economic hit of $97.8 million to our economy. This is aside from the potential lost opportunity to have a lead in future flight technology development or access to future aviation passenger and delivery services in a central community location. 

For all of these reasons, the Boulder Chamber will be opposing ballot measures or any proposal to close the Boulder Municipal Airport. Founded in 1928, we’ve benefited from having this aviation facility in our community for nearly 100 years. Let’s hold onto this important economic vitality, transportation and public safety asset, along with the role it can play in the future aviation revolution of rapidly advancing technology! Please reach out to our Senior Director of Policy Programs, Jonathan Singer, if you have questions regarding this policy position or if you are interested in adding your voice in support of our ballot opposition efforts. You can reach Jonathan at