Friday, January 10, 2014

Airport building design committee formed

Master plan outline approved by Airport Authority

Express Staff Writer

    The Freidman Memorial Airport Authority board on Tuesday set a deadline of October to have the design completed for an enlarged and reconfigured terminal and for relocation of three administration and service buildings.
    The work is part of a $34 million project needed to meet federal safety standards that require more separation between the airport’s runway and taxiways.

This talk of a virtual rebuilding of the airport makes me uncomfortable.”
Fritz Haemmerle
Friedman Memorial Airport Authority

    During the Airport Authority’s meeting at the Old County Courthouse in Hailey, architect Nick Latham presented preliminary designs for reconfiguration of the buildings and removal of several hangars.
    The cost of appraisal alone of the eight hangars and buildings slated for removal is $49,000.
     A subcommittee was formed to begin reviewing building design details, perhaps as soon as next month. The subcommittee is composed of Hailey City Councilman Don Keirn, County Commissioner Larry Schoen and independent representative Ron Fairfax.
    The full Airport Authority board will review the final building designs at regularly scheduled board meetings.
    The airport runway will be closed for 25 days next spring and again in spring 2015 to allow construction work to be carried out. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by July 2015, with final terminal building upgrades continuing until 2017.
    Airport Improvement Program grants from the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to pay for $28.1 million worth of the work and private parties for $3.6 million to build new hangars, leaving the airport to come up with $2.3 million, mostly from the $4.50 passenger facility charges it receives from each airline ticket.
     Operational reserves at the airport will be drawn down from $5.3 million this year to $1.65 million in 2015 to help pay for the work.
    “We are drawing it down for all the right reasons,” said County Commissioner and Airport Authority board member Larry Schoen. “I think everyone in this community has recognized the social and cultural benefits that the airport brings, and how important it is to our economic future.”
    The board also approved an outline for a five-year master plan that could include land acquisition and expansion. However, board member and Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said he would support expansion of the airport only if it becomes “necessary,” not just “convenient.” The other two Hailey representatives on the board agreed.
    “This talk of a virtual rebuilding of the airport makes me uncomfortable,” Haemmerle said.
    He reiterated the Hailey City Council’s position that expansion outside existing airport boundaries could take place only after an amendment to the joint powers agreement between the city and Blaine County, which prohibits expansion.
    The Hailey representatives have expressed concern that the airport remodel might obviate a longstanding plan to relocate the airport outside of the city.

    In other airport news:

  • The board passed a resolution to draft an “air-carrier new-market incentive policy” that will allow the airport to waive certain fees for new carriers for up to 180 days.
  • Ron Fairfax was reappointed to a two-year term as independent representative on the board.
  • Jim Laski was hired as Airport Authority legal counsel.

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