Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Catch-22 in airport review


The process to assess Friedman Memorial Airport and to review and evaluate alternatives has been going on for many years. I recently attended my first two airport meetings and have a simple observation.

Many questions have arisen over the years about the costs of various options, the funding of each option, the impact that different alternatives would have on our economy, the reliability of the alternatives, etc.

Airport authorities have stated that the answers to these questions will all emerge ... someday, when the draft environmental impact statement and economics studies are released.

On May 27, it is expected that the FAA will release the draft environmental impact statement that is purported to contain the answers to these questions. As I understand it, however, once the draft statement is released, the FAA will cease to entertain any alternatives other than the one favored in the draft statement. So our community will be required to either move forward with whatever alternative this report anoints—without any further discussion or we forego any FAA support for other options.

This is alarming. The people leading this process have told us to be patient for answers. Perhaps only now will we learn that once the answers are available, all opportunity to challenge the answers, or the logic therein, is practically eliminated.

Given that the new airport alternatives have seen enormous cost increases (now more than $300 million), it seems that a thorough and comprehensive review of all the alternatives is important. I certainly hope that the citizens of Blaine County will be provided all the relevant data, based on sensible assumptions, as we consider this very important matter. Let's hope that our choices aren't eliminated during the "review."

JAKE PETERS

Ketchum




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