Friday, November 9, 2007

Anything missing from airport study?

Public gets 2 more chances to comment on EIS

Express Staff Writer

Martha Burke

The public will have two more chances next month to suggest changes or additions to the Environmental Impact Statement study being conducted in the run up to a decision on a new airport.

On the other hand, residents can just attend and listen.

The so-called "scoping meetings," for which a schedule was announced Tuesday at the regular Friedman Memorial Airport Authority meeting, will be held between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3, and 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Dec. 4, at the Community Campus in Hailey.

Conducting the meeting will be officials of the Federal Aviation Administration and the international consulting firm of Landrum & Brown, which has been given the contract to manage the EIS project. Although members of the Airport Authority and airport staff are likely to attend, they will be there as observers.

The EIS study, which is divided into four phases and will cost an estimated $4 million, will take several years for completion.

A new airport has been proposed for southern Blaine County on at least 600 acres and perhaps as much as 1,200 acres to replace Friedman by the year 2017. The FAA has ruled that Friedman is out of compliance with safety standards, and could face severe FAA sanctions on commercial air service.

In other authority business:

- Authority Chair Martha Burke was elected by fellow board members to another two-year term. Vice Chair Susan McBryant asked not to be renamed to the No. 2 spot. Board member Tom Bowman was then elected vice chair, while McBryant took over as secretary from Bowman.

- Authority critic Carlton Green, a Friedman-based pilot, again expressed his dislike for the method board members are initially appointed by the city of Hailey and Blaine County, which are the two nominal "owners" of the airport. Green in the past has suggested a public vote to elect authority members. Bowman suggested Green appear before county commissioners and argue his point.

- May 10, 2008, has been set for a live, simulated emergency disaster drill involving a mock airliner accident at the airport to test the efficiency of emergency fire and medical services. The drill is required by the FAA every three years.

- At the invitation of member McBryant, who is the outgoing mayor of Hailey, an airport staff member will be appointed to attend Hailey's Climate Change Committee meetings. McBryant said studies show airports can be big contributors to air pollution.

- The board approved allocating $400,000 of a $1 million FAA airport improvement project grant for purchase of a large new snow plow and $400,000 to modify the plow maintenance building's entrance to accommodate the 22-foot-wide plow blade. A 12-year-old plow will be kept in reserve.

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