Representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and the consulting firm tapped to study possible sites for a new Wood River Valley area airport will meet with the public Monday, April 23, at a community gathering at the Community Campus in Hailey.
The Friedman Memorial Airport Authority urged Airport Manager Rick Baird during Tuesday night's monthly board meeting to make sure the community session is heavily advertised and promoted in the days leading up to the gathering.
Tentatively, the meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Baird said the session is not a public hearing, but an opportunity for the community to interact with the key players in the study of possible sites and to suggest topics to be studied if not already included in the plans.
The consulting firm, Landrum & Brown, of Cincinnati, will manage an environmental impact statement study with sweeping research of a wide range of topics generally falling under broad environmental and economic headings. The study could take several years. Its costs, well over $1 million, will be paid by the airport authority with funds supplied by the FAA under a grant.
The highly regarded Landrum & Brown, which was picked by the FAA from four contenders for the contract, already has paved the way for its study with an ambitious and voluminous outline of its planned activities, the full extent of which can be found on the Internet (www.airporteis.com).
Although the airport board has designated a site in southern Blaine County as its preferred locale for a new $100 million-plus airport, Landrum & Brown is obliged to look at all possible sites, including those discussed and discarded by a citizens site selection committee.
In the end, as airport attorney Barry Luboviski advised the board, the paramount hurdle of settling on a site is whether it would have a "sponsor"—that is an entity such as the airport authority or a county to operate and manage a new airport.
Luboviski was responding to concerns by Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen, who attended the meeting as an interested spectator but ultimately would be involved in a site decision, of whether the consulting firm might pick a site in the Bellevue Triangle, which was overwhelmingly rejected by the citizens committee.
If the time and sweep of the EIS study seems unduly complicated, it's because of demands of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The public meeting, for example, is but one waypoint in the process.
On May 1, Landrum & Brown will submit to the airport authority a draft outline of the study's scope.
Then, on June 5, the airport board will approve the plan. Also in June, the firm's proposed fee will be discussed, along with outside fee recommendations.
In July, the airport board will approve the EIS contract with Landrum & Brown, and a request for covering the costs will be submitted to the FAA.