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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 10 - 16, 2003

News

Airport authority
to select advisory
committee

Critics urged to attend meetings


By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer

As planning for a possible new airport gets into full swing, members of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority will select an advisory committee to assist with choosing a new location and deciding what to do with the airport in Hailey.

The idea put forth at the board meeting Tuesday, Dec. 2, preceded the reading of a prepared statement by an attorney representing a new group called "Save Friedman Airport" that advocates keeping the airport open. Tom Campion, who read the statement, relayed concerns that the board was capitulating to pressure from the FAA rather than heeding the desires of some members of the community who would like to see the airport remain in Hailey.

Board members deflected the criticism and said that the planning process was and still is open to the public, and that the future of Friedman is yet to be determined. Campion said he was encouraged by the board’s request for more community participation and promised to deliver the board’s message to the members of his group that they participate in future meetings.

"I think at times they have an admirable goal," Airport Manager Rick Baird said. But, he also said that informing people about the problems facing Friedman improves their understanding of the need to find a new location. "We cannot regress. That is not an option," he said.

Closing Friedman is not definite, board member Len Harlig said. The board added that people involved in the planning process would understand that included in the search for a new airport location is consideration of what to do with the old airport.

The key point of the meeting was to ensure that community members throughout the valley know the invitation to participate in planning for the future of air transportation in the valley is open to everyone.

"We want to be inclusive. We want to set up a large advisory committee including surrounding communities ... " Chairwoman Mary Ann Mix said. "Public involvement will be expanded beyond the master plan."

Mix and Baird said they would take a master plan presentation on the road to give workshops to any group that would like to be better informed. The advisory committee could also include people from neighboring counties, Mix said. But, she stressed that the committee would be an advisory group. "We are not abrogating our responsibility," she said. The ultimate decision will lie with this board."

As the board begins the site search and feasibility assessments in 2004, numerous public meetings will be scheduled to get input from the community.

Airport consultant Tom Schnetzer of Mead and Hunt recommended that the board look for diversity as it searches for members of the advisory committee.

"We will give the public more access, more workshops in more locations," Mix said. The goal for the advisory group is to pool together a large group of people with different stakes.

 

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.