Officials seeking airport analysis

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The city of Steamboat Springs is seeking six to seven people to serve on a steering committee that will help with upcoming studies of Steamboat Springs Airport.

The City Council agreed Tues--day to advertise openings on the committee.

In March, the council voted unanimously to complete a new Steamboat Springs Airport Master Plan as well as a study that would explore alternative uses for the airport. During the meeting, the council decided a steering committee or task force should be formed to work with the consultants who are drafting the plan.

According to a city staff memo, the committee would have several functions. Members would help develop the scope of work for the alternatives study. The committee also would assist in the selection of the consultant for the study. Other duties would be to attend meetings with the consultant to monitor progress of the study, as well as report meeting proceedings to council.

On Tuesday, Council member Susan Dellinger, who serves on the Yampa Valley Airport Commission, said she had identified six candidates for the committee: airport proponents Joe McNasby, Mike Forney and Jack Dysart, and airport critics Warren Harner, Walter Scott and Michael Turner.

Council members asked Dellinger why people who would have neutral views were not asked to serve on the committee. Dellinger said there is no such thing as an interested person who is neutral on the airport; either people are not interested in it, or they are interested and have an opinion.

City staff anticipated a conflict among committee members. In a memo, staff recommended that the council spend $2,000 to $4,000 for a facilitator to run some of the committee's first meetings.

"Initially, there may be some conflicts in getting this committee to function as a cooperative working group," the memo reads. "Staff recommends hiring a facilitator for at least the first two to three meetings to facilitate productive and cordial meetings."

The council did not address this issue Tuesday.

In the city memo, city staff proposed that 11 people belong to the board: three airport proponents, three airport critics, three neutral people and two nonvoting members, who would be a council member and a city staff member. The council decided that the group should probably be smaller than 11 people.

The council agreed to advertise openings for the committee. The city also will solicit candidates who have shown interest, Interim City Manager Wendy DuBord said. As part of the process, the six people Dellinger identified would have to fill out an application if they want to serve on the committee.

The alternatives study likely will explore the possibility of consolidating aviation service at Yampa Valley Regional Airport and finding another use for the Steamboat Springs Airport and its land. The value of the airport's land and facilities may be assessed as part of that process. The alternatives study will cost as much as $100,000.

The master plan will include development options for the airport and will include data about aviation and its future in the Yampa Valley. The last master plan, which was completed in 1998, had information based on commercial flights that no longer provide service there. The plan update will cost about $250,000.

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