Friday, June 17, 2005

Airport site committee gets 'thank you' letters

Express Staff Writer

Members of the citizens committee that spent nearly a year studying potential sites for a new airport to replace the Hailey field were sent a thank-you letter this week by Friedman Memorial Airport Authority Chairwoman Martha Burke.

"You each individually have worked diligently to arrive at a collective consensus and recommendation for a preferred airport location, which the FMAA board will consider strongly in future deliberations," she wrote.

The airport board in effect disbanded the site selection committee last week after concluding that the group had completed its mission with a final recommendation of three potential sites.

Based on scoring of various sites from the original list of 16, the committee picked site No. 9 in Lincoln County, located just south of the Blaine County line and east of state Highway 75, as their top choice.

Second was site No.13, east of the city of Fairfield in Camas County, and third was site No. 10 in a Bureau of Land Management area in Blaine County, just north of the Lincoln County line and east of Highway 75.

Burke's letter said that "the board does anticipate convening a smaller group in an advisory capacity at a later date to discuss and provide input with regard to future and more specific site selection process milestones."

Members also were told "your continued participation as a stakeholder representative or as interested individual is welcomed and desired."

A June 21 meeting at which the recommended sites were to be discussed was canceled by the board due to deadline work on staff projects. It is to be rescheduled for sometime in July.

Once the airport board picks a preferred site, the recommendation will go to the Federal Aviation Administration. But years of additional study and discussion about a proposed new airport lie ahead.

A site in another county would need approval of that county's county commissioners. If ultimately located in another county, the probability is it would be operated by a joint authority representing both Blaine County and that county.

Also involved in future studies will be a determination of whether Friedman airport will be closed or retained for limited general aviation operations.

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