Airport: Land proposal in the works, future plans discussed

Published on Thu, Sep 11, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Airport: Land proposal in the works, future plans discussed

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

The city council took no action during Monday evening�s meeting concerning the potential land deal that would add 5.43 acres of land to the Blaine Municipal Airport.

The city of Blaine has been negotiating with land owner Robert Carruthers to purchase these acres lying near the southern end of the airport for a navigation easement � the area contains tall trees encroaching into the airport�s flight path and a number of wetlands.

According to Carruthers, the city offered him $300,000 for his land, and he in turn requested $310,000. In response to that, the city council voted to offer Carruthers $305,000 for the property.

City attorney Jon Sitkin, city staff and council discussed the land deal in executive session at Monday�s evening; however, no action was taken.

�Negotiations are proceeding, and we hope to conclude this week,� Sitkin said. �There are some minor issues still being worked out.�

When asked what those minor issues were, Sitkin said he could not comment on them and did not wish to discuss the land deal through the press.

The city of Blaine has declared hundreds of trees near the airport too tall, endangering airport users. In the southern end, about 485 trees have been declared too tall and about 100 more in the northern end, near B, C, and D streets.

In the case of Carruthers� land, the city wants to purchase that area to save costs when alleviating the tree issue. Because his land contains wetlands, the city will have to incur mitigation costs, as a current court order states the city is required to log the area if they do not own the property. If the city were to own the land, the trees would be cut to the stumps, thus avoiding mitigation costs.

Master plan, Ketchum study
The city and airport officials are working on a master plan for the airport, and are also in the middle of a study establishing the feasibility of airport expansion.

�We�re progressing with the airport master plan and the collection of consultants to do that,� city manager Gary Tomsic said at Monday�s meeting.

Seven companies, he said, responded to a request for qualifications (RFQ), and that list has been cut to four.

�We couldn�t narrow it down to anymore than four,� Tomsic said, adding those companies will now be evaluated.

Following his briefing on the master plan, council member Bruce Wolf asked Tomsic to brief the council on the status of the Ketchum study � a report performed by David Ketchum of Airside, outlining the feasibility of airport expansion.

�Doug was the last one to speak to him,� Tomsic responded, turning to airport commissioner Doug Fenton, who in turn stated Ketchum was somehow recently connected to events in the Middle East, and while there, became ill.

�He was sick for several months, but is now working on the final draft,� Fenton said. �I suspect some time within the next month we should have a report.�

According to finance director Meredith Riley, Ketchum has been paid $8,875 so far for his work, and this does not include the next phase of his report.

City council next meets Monday, September 22 at 7 p.m.

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