Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cold breakup


The letter from the Federal Aviation Administration was like a cold, breakup text message: BTW, No $$ 4 U. It's over. It's me, not U. BBN, good luck. SS.).

Unceremoniously tossed away like yesterday's candy wrapper, the members of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority were left to try to make sense of a short letter that ended an eight-year search for a new airport site to serve the Sun Valley area. The area deserves more than a letter.

The letter cited skyrocketing cost estimates and environmental issues at two top relocation sites as reasons for canceling the search. It didn't describe the problems in detail nor did it say what happened to an environmental impact statement that was nearly complete, but never released.

Everyone is left to speculate or try to read the tea leaves. Politics? Threatened wildlife? Looming federal budget cuts? The letter is strange given that the strenuous search that created bitter divisions within the community was undertaken at the insistence of the federal agency.

No one at the FAA—including officials who steadfastly had insisted that the airport authority had no choice but to build a new airport or see commercial air service die on the vine—would take urgent phone calls from spurned local officials.

Like a bad breakup message, the letter offered no suggestions on what the airport should do now even though commercial air service lives and dies on the FAA's approval of the airport.

What's a community whose primary resort operator says that 30 percent of guests used the local airport last winter to do?

The FAA needs to cough up the EIS. The work's already paid for. Then, FAA officials need to define the options, if any exist, for commercial air service here.




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