Friday, January 29, 2010

Next up: explaining legal angles of new airport

Express Staff Writer

For Denver attorney Peter Kirsch, building and opening a replacement for Friedman Memorial Airport should not take on "the misperception that it's a political issue." In fact, he says, it involves complicated legal and contractual aspects that he'll spell out next month during a special joint meeting of the Hailey City Council and the Blaine County Commission.

Kirsch, special legal counsel to the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, will cover a range of issues facing Hailey, the county and the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority.

At some point, Hailey's role as a co-sponsor of Friedman and thus a signatory to financial obligations with the Federal Aviation Administration will end, and legal and contractual obligations will be assumed by the sponsor of the new airport, presumably Blaine County.

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Kirsch also will explore creation of a new airport governance body and when it would assume decision-making powers from the present Friedman Memorial Airport Authority.

Like the interlocking pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, financing a replacement airport's construction must be timed to also connect with FAA approval of funding so expenses are covered with minimum delay.

Kirsch's presentation, scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11, at 5:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Community Campus in Hailey, is one of several planned updates for the public by him, by financial consultants Ricondo and Associates, by the FAA and by Landrum and Brown, which is conducting the environmental impact study leading up to selection of the replacement airport site.

Snow slows January travel

Those heavy January snowstorms did wonders for skiing. But for travelers and aircraft, not so much.

Friedman Memorial Airport had three major closures during the month as of Tuesday—from 11 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18, until 2 p.m., Tuesday Jan. 19; from 11 p.m., Wednesday Jan. 20, until 12:20 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21; and from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22.

According to Friedman Operations Manager Pete Kramer, weather conditions forced SkyWest Airlines to divert 13 of its flights, while Horizon Air diverted 13 flights and cancelled three through Tuesday.

Kramer points out that the airport control tower is not manned from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m, and during that time aircraft operators are asked to voluntarily suspended takeoffs and landings.

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