For the week of October 14 thru October 20, 1998  

Friedman Airport issues dominate council discussions


By AMY SPINDLER
Express Staff Writer

Bellevue City Council members received assurances on Thursday that Friedman Memorial Airport can continue to be a compatible neighbor as it moves forward with its master plan.

Airport manager Rick Baird met with the council on Thursday to address the airport’s noise-abatement program and the implementation of its master plan over the next four years.

Last spring, authority members, pilots and Bellevue and Hailey city council members formed a noise abatement committee to update and improve the program. But council members expressed concern Thursday about its effectiveness.

Baird told the council that all pilots have received a newsletter explaining a voluntary curfew for all aircraft outside the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

"I’m tough on pilots," said Baird. "I’m probably the worst guy to deal with on a voluntary basis because I believe there’s nothing wrong with flying neighborly. We get pretty dog-gone vicious."

But Bellevue Mayor Monte Brothwell told Baird that noise abatement is the chief concern of residents.

"How can we make the program more than just an idle threat?" Brothwell asked.

Baird explained that Friedman’s curfew is voluntary because the Federal Aviation Administration regulations state that airports may not close. The regulation is based on the United States Constitution that prohibits the government from restricting interstate commerce, he said.

Baird told the council that statistics show the airport has been quieter with less traffic the past two years; last year Friedman logged only 155 noise complaints during 70,000 take-offs and landings.

Baird also addressed the airport’s $15 million development plan. The plan will shift the runway 350 feet to the south, and move all buildings on the east side to the southwest corner of the airfield. The master plan also has aircraft parking moved to the east, which will decrease noise.

Baird said the priorities are safety and operating a more "neighbor friendly operation."

He said the improvements will not give the airport the capability to handle large jets. He said that is determined by the strength of the asphalt; the ramps at Friedman can hold a maximum of 100,000 pounds.

However, Baird said regional jets, with a maximum of 110 passengers, may one day fly into Friedman. He said he is a proponent of regional jets because they are built to be quieter, and although they hold more passengers, they would have less impact on the surrounding community.

At the close of the discussion, Baird gave out his work and home telephone number so council members could call him with any questions or complaints.

"Rick takes good care of Bellevue," said city administrator Janice Moroni, who also said her concerns had dissipated after speaking with Baird.

 

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