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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Friedman officials stress that new airport needed

Airport update delivered to Ketchum council

Express Staff Writer

Two senior supervisors of Friedman Memorial Airport are advertising a plan to pursue a set of short-term improvements to the facility while concurrently seeking a location for a new regional airport.

Rick Baird, airport manager, and Mary Ann Mix, chairwoman of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, told Ketchum City Council members Monday, May 17, that ever-evolving federal regulations and increased use of the airport have combined to force changes at the site.

"Weíre really full. And thatís starting to happen more and more," Baird said.

Baird and Mix appeared before city officials to provide an update on the Airport Authorityís new 10-year master plan for Friedman. The update of the airport master plan is currently in the final stages of approval by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Baird and Mix are scheduled to make a similar presentation to the Sun Valley City Council on Thursday, May 20.

Baird told Ketchum officials that the authority has opted to pursue a management approach that calls for making a set of short-term improvements to Friedman while conducting a study of potential sites for a new facility, which would ultimately replace the Hailey airport.

Baird said making long-term improvements to Friedman to bring the airport into compliance with FAA regulations were determined to bear unreasonable impacts and costs.

Baird stressed that the FAA will not allow Friedman managers to operate the airport long term without making substantial improvements or moving its operations to a new site.

"You donít have a choice to do nothing," he said.

Friedman is estimated to see its passenger demand double in the next 20 years, he added.

Baird said the process of selecting a site for a new airport in the Wood River Valley region will take approximately 18 months. A new airport would take an estimated seven to 10 years to build, he noted.

If a new airport is funded and constructed, the FAA would not continue to fund the operation of Friedman, Baird said.

The last update of the Friedman Memorial Airport master plan was conducted in 1994.

Ketchum Council members did not comment on the presentation by Baird and Mix.

"Itís not necessarily a pretty picture," Mayor Ed Simon said.


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