Airport committee flying right along

Facilitator removes self from panel

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— A committee to guide studies of future development and land use at Steamboat Springs Airport made progress Thursday, despite the loss of its facilitator.

During a meeting at Centennial Hall, members of the Steamboat Springs Airport Steering Committee shook off questions about the purpose of their group and continued working to clarify goals the committee outlined last week. Appointed by the City Council in May, the committee plans to oversee two separate studies regarding the airport. One study is designed to guide an update of the airport's master plan. The other study, previously called an "alternate use" or "alternative" study, will examine the entire range of possible uses for the 255-acre airport site on Elk River Road.

The committee decided Thursday to rename the alternative study, due to what some committee members called "negative implications" of the word "alternative."

"That sounds like the airport is already closed," said Bob Maddox, owner of Mountain Flight Services.

The committee decided to use the term "comprehensive airport review" to describe the second study, for which a consulting firm has not yet been found.

Armstrong Consultants, Inc., an airport engineering and planning services firm based in Grand Junction, will conduct the master plan study.

The committee will now conduct its work without the aid of facilitator Chad James, who was initially hired by the city for 11 hours of meeting facilitation at a total cost of $2,785 but removed himself from the committee in an e-mail to members Wednesday.

"Due to a general lack of direction and purpose, I don't feel that I am able to serve the committee effectively," wrote James, president and CEO of The Professional Success Group, Inc.

That position marks a sharp contrast to sentiment expressed by James last week, when he sent an e-mail to city officials proposing an expansion of his role and additional fees of $4,830.

"I think that the meeting went quite well and the group is now settled on a firm foundation to begin the process," James wrote Aug. 18, referring to an Aug. 17 committee meeting.

Thursday, James would not comment on what caused his change of heart. He said only that his "decision to continue or not continue with the committee has nothing to do with acceptance or rejection of my proposal."

George Krawzoff, the city's director of transportation, said the city had neither accepted or rejected James' proposal for further work.

"I don't know why he made the decision he did," Krawzoff said.

The committee also worked on a draft mission statement Thursday, further clarifying its goal of using a public process to assess the studies and the airport's impact on the community.

The seven-member committee will direct and analyze information provided by the studies, over a period of at least 18 months, then present findings to the Steamboat Springs City Council.

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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