Portturns down request to study airport issue

Published on Thu, Jan 18, 2007 by ara Nelson

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Port turns down request to study airport issue

By Tara Nelson

The Port of Bellingham will not be moving forward with a request from the city of Blaine to outline alternative uses to the Blaine airport property.

In a regular meeting of the Port of Bellingham Tuesday, commissioners denied a request by Blaine city officials Mike Myers and Gary Tomsic to consider developing proposals examining alternative uses to the airport.

The request stemmed from a December 11 Blaine City Council meeting, when council member Ken Ely expressed concerns about funding for the airport master plan. Ely said after a November 27 conference call between city and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials, the city of Blaine can expect little more than $150,000 per year from the agency’s non-primary entitlement grant program – far less than the amount outlined in the city’s airport master plan.

Port commissioner Scott Walker said because the port had already helped fund the alternative land use study proposed by Makers BST Associates consulting firm, he didn’t understand why a second proposal was needed.

“We’d have to go out and hire another consultant to do similar work to critique the Makers report, the reading of what we’ve seen of it looks reasonable,” he said. “So I’m not sure how we can really add anything to what Makers recommended.”

Commissioner Douglas Smith agreed, adding that Blaine would be better off focusing on its relationship with the port with regard to the reconstruction of Marine Drive.

“At this point and time I think it’s up to the community to decide what’s in their best interest,” he said.

Smith added that he thinks the port can have a far more favorable effect on the economic development for Blaine and for the rest of the county by focusing their relationships with the city on the waterfront than the airport.

“I think the airport’s something that you need to decide with your citizens,” he said.

Tomsic said the next step will be for the members of Blaine City Council to evaluate the funding plan put forth in the airport master plan.

Tomsic said he will give a brief presentation of the meeting results to city council at their January 22 meeting.