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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday, July 16, 2004


Friedman board soothes advisors

Ruffled feathers bog down airport authority meeting

Express Staff Writer

For nearly a third of their three and a half hour monthly meeting on Tuesday, members of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority wrangled over two nagging issues that seemed to grow from molehills to mountains.

Susan McBryant

First, should the authority provide minutes of meetings for the 50-member citizens airport site selection advisory committee and, second, how can the committee be made to feel itís not functioning merely as a rubber stamp?

The questions were raised at the last advisory committee meeting by Sun Valley Co. general manager Wally Huffman, who said he would like minutes to make sure heís quoted accurately, and former Ketchum city councilman Maurice Charlat, who complained he felt like the committee was merely an "audience."

An apparently irritated Susan McBryant, mayor of Hailey as well as an authority member, touched off the long discussion when she suggested the Hailey airport lacks the funds to hire personnel to take minutes and then transcribe them, adding "itís another burden and responsibility" not required of the airport.

"If they want minutes," McBryant continued, "get volunteers to take notes."

Airport manager Rick Baird intervened long enough to note that the Federal Aviation Administration had also declined to pay for the professional facilitator, Mike Pepper, of Twin Falls, hired to moderate advisory committee meetings.

And McBryant added "itís not relevant to me what words are said at all those meetings. Their (the committee) job is to present results of their work. I donít care how they get there."

So, what about taping the sessions that last for several hours, asked authority chair Mary Ann Mix?

That idea caught on--with conditions.

Although McBryant saw taping as another burden on Friedmanís staff, in the end she relented, after members agreed that an unedited tape would be available at the airport office for any committee member who wanted to listen to it, but no typed transcriptions.

Still, member Martha Burke, a Hailey City Council member, wondered whether the committee was making unnecessary demands.

"Tell me again how did we get here?" she asked bitingly. "I get the feeling not everyone (on the advisory committee) is listening; theyíre just preparing arguments."

Airport attorney Barry Luboviski jumped in, assuring the authority that the advisory committee has only met twice for get-acquainted details. "It will change," he said.

Authority member Len Harlig, who had refrained from joining in the haggling over whether and how to provide minutes, spoke up.

The committee process "is to get a wider range of viewpoints" on a possible new airport site, he said.

"Iím nervous about drawing a line in the sand" by "making them (the advisory committee) feel theyíre not valuable."

At which point, airport consultant Charles Sundby, of Toothman-Ortman, produced a template of four major questions to be answered by the citizens groupósite suitability, social considerations, environmental and economic.

Each issue has five subsection questions that would define whether any of at least nine sites inside an area bounded by Ketchum, Shoshone, Fairfield and Carey could meet stiff tests required for FAA approval.

Sundby provided the authority what with he called "fatal flaw criteria"óthat is, geographical, topographical, economic or environmental obstacles that would disqualify a site.

Harlig said he thought that the area of possible sites was "too limiting." Burke, known for edgy repartee, cracked that the golf course adjoining Sun Valley Road (owned by Sun Valley Co.) might be a good site. Huffman had said jokingly in the last advisory committee meeting he would like a site between Hailey and Ketchum, closer to the resort.

Sundby agreed with several members, including McBryant, to add possible areas north of Ketchum for review by the committee.

The authority also set Aug. 4 for the first public workshop to be held in the Old County Courthouse second floor meeting room. Literature and display materials involving the site study as well as a history of the present Friedman Memorial Airport will be posted for public review.


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