Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sooner the better

When the Hailey City Council meets on Jan. 30 it should approve construction hours for Friedman Memorial Airport that run as late as 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 p.m. on weekends.

The airport will close from late April to late May for critical runway repairs.

Hailey Mayor Susan McBryant isn't happy that the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority approved the hours. The City Council could shorten the hours.

McBryant argues that 9 p.m. is too late for neighboring Woodside residents and calls the weekend hours an "outrage."

She says the airport shouldn't count on Hailey residents to accommodate the construction. She proposes that construction hours end consistently at 7 p.m. every day. This would add a week of time and more cost to the project.

We heartily disagree.

Asking residents to tolerate 24-hour construction schedules like those used on critical freeways in many states might be an outrage. But operations until 9 p.m., especially with spring's longer daylight hours, hardly meet the level of "outrage."

Ironically, the hours approved by the authority will give neighbors two to four hours more continuous quiet than they normally enjoy each day. The airport currently operates between the hours of 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. when jet-level noise can occur at any time—every day.

Friedman Memorial Airport existed long before most of the closest subdivisions were platted—or populated. When people bought homes near the airport, they knew they would be living next to an active airport in a growing valley. Most neighbors have been understanding of airport operations.

The same residents depend heavily on the local economy for their bread and butter. When the airport is shut down, businesses suffer. Some are deprived of customers; others suffer travel disruptions.

No one is happy to close the airport—again. It was closed for construction 19 days last year.

The City Council should not make a bad situation worse by curtailing construction. Getting it done as quickly as possible is in everyone's interest.

The sooner, the better.

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