Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hailey: Keep airport options open

City leaders object to expansion, want Site 12 on table


     The Hailey City Council voted Monday to send a letter to the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority requesting that options other than expanding the existing airport be considered.

     The decision came after a flurry of statements voicing concern about renewed interest in expanding the Hailey airport to allow larger aircraft into the region now and in the future.

     “We’re in a quasi-hostage situation here,” said Councilman Fritz Haemmerle.

     The discussion Monday came on the heels of a decision in August by the Federal Aviation Administration to suspend environmental review of two sites in southern BlaineCounty proposed for relocation of the airport. The process of possibly moving the airport out of Hailey came to a temporary halt when the FAA cited environmental concerns at one of the sites—Site 10A near the Blaine-Lincoln county line—and said there is inadequate funding to build the estimated $300 million facility.

     On Monday, some Hailey leaders said they want one of the two preferred sites—Site 12 east of Fairfield—to get another serious look.

     “I would like Site 12 to be on the table,” said Councilwoman Carol Brown.

     “I would too,” Haemmerle said. “Why should we expand a bad airport?”

     “The county doesn’t support an airport there,” said Councilwoman Martha Burke, who serves as vice-chair of the Airport Authority.

     Burke will meet with the FAA on Oct. 16 along with Blaine County Commissioner Tom Bowman. The FAA has said no options have been taken off the table but the community needs to determine what it wants and how it will pay for it. It has been suggested the federal agency might only pay for about half of the project cost.

     Haemmerle said he is worried Hailey and its citizens could now be stuck living with a bigger, noisier airport in its midst.

     “The county commissioners don’t have the political will to look at the hard options and they have the political will to gore us,” he said. “And I think that’s wrong.”

     Both Brown and Burke expressed support for reopening the “value engineering” phase—consideration of how costs could be reduced—of the site assessment for Site 12.

     Burke noted that one option is a southward extension of the current runway parallel to state Highway 75, but the need for an Instrument Landing System requires a bigger footprint than such an extension would provide. A realignment to the southwest could provide that space, but has been opposed by Bellevue residents at recent public meetings.

     “Instrument landing takes a lot of space outside the fence,” Burke said, referring to the fact that the signal needs open space. “That should be the first conversation with the FAA. Can we afford it? Will it do any good?”

     In a rare twist given the public outcry at other meetings in the valley, only one Hailey resident commented during the open discussion.

     “There is so much misleading information going around,” said Krista Gehrke of Hailey. “The public needs to see the three options so we can decide.”

      These options are an extension and widening of the current configuration, the angled extended runway to the southwest closer to Bellevue, and doing nothing.

     “The status quo should be analyzed,” Haemmerle said, and the other council members agreed.

     There was consensus on the council that Hailey residents should be more vocal at the meetings.

     “We need to schedule a meeting for one purpose,” Haemmerle said. “I know we can get a lot of people to comment but we need people to show up.

     “We need to hear what people in Hailey have to say,” Keirn agreed.

     However, the council set no date for such a meeting.

     The council members concluded that a formal position statement on what their views on the airport were should be drawn up and presented to the FAA and the Airport Authority. Burke said she would present the letter.

     City Attorney Ned Williamson advised caution.

     “There is a rush here to write a letter,” he said.

     He said he didn’t think it was prudent to indicate to the FAA one option over another.

     However, Keirn said, “I think we should go forward.”

     Other council members agreed.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.