Airport takes on tree removal issue, new commissioners
By Doug Fenton, Commissioner
2003 was once again a busy year for the airport. Much of our effort was directed toward the removal of obstructions in the flight path, to make approaches easier and safer and to encourage increased transient traffic.
In order to remove the trees obstructing the southern approach zone, it became necessary to purchase approximately five acres of land. Much time and effort was expended negotiating this purchase; however we were unable to reach an agreement with the owner and ultimately the city was forced to condemn the property. The city also arranged a loan in the amount of $250,000 to cover a portion of the cost of the condemnation proceedings. This loan is to be paid entirely from airport revenue. It is hoped that this process will be completed early in the new year.
A successful fly-in was held on June 7. Pedestrian traffic was down a bit this year, as we were competing with the Highland Games in Ferndale; however, visiting aircraft traffic was better than usual and everyone enjoyed our gourmet hot dogs.
As most of you are aware, the future direction of the airport is a lively topic for discussion in our fair city. David Ketchum was retained to study the feasibility of expanding the airport, to assist the council in formulating a policy on this matter. His final report has recently been received by the city and will be considered by the council in the near future.
With the inclusion of our airport in the federal National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) list, we are now eligible to receive FAA grant money for airport improvements; however in order to receive these funds we must first complete an airport master plan. We have recently chosen a consulting firm to prepare this plan for us, and we expect the plan to be completed in 2004.
Jack Schuman and Jim Ellis have recently joined the commission and, with the imminent retirement of Alma Wagner, the city will be seeking another new member to take office in January.