Saturday, September 16, 2006
Steamboat Springs A study to update the master plan for Steamboat Springs Airport will produce a long-term "roadmap" of the airport's growth that is financially, politically and physically feasible, consultants said Thursday.
"Our efforts are focused on Steamboat Springs Airport continuing as a general aviation airport," said Dennis Corsi, director of planning for Armstrong Consultants, an airport engineering and planning firm based in Grand Junction. "We expect an increasing trend in general aviation."
Corsi and Justin Pietz, an airport planner with Armstrong, spoke to an audience of about 20 people at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
The event was the first of four public meetings to be hosted by Armstrong staff as the firm's 18-month study progresses.
Corsi said he and Pietz have begun the study's first phase, an extensive inventory of airport use, facilities and finances.
The inventory should be completed by the end of the month and will be followed by a data assessment used to make projections about future airport use and growth needs, Corsi said.
That assessment will include studies of the airport's local socio-economic and environmental impacts, Corsi said.
People at the meeting were primarily local pilots and members of the Steamboat Springs Airport Steering Committee.
They questioned Corsi and Pietz about the scope of the master plan study, given recent public debate about the airport's overall value to Steamboat and Routt County, and questions about how to accurately gauge the financial impact the airport has locally.
Corsi said the study will use information from numerous sources, such as the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, to assess jobs created by the airport and business the facility brings to Routt County.
The airport's operating and maintenance costs and annual subsidies from the city also will be examined, Corsi said.
"One thing we will not do is gauge what the net loss would be if the airport was not there," Corsi said. "That is outside the scope of our plan."
Assessing the impact of an airport closure will be part of a second study, called a "comprehensive airport review," or CAR, which will occur alongside the master plan study during the next 18 months, Steamboat Springs Transportation Director George Krawzoff said.
That study will examine alternative uses for the airport site, and will provide information that is "separate but parallel" to the master plan study.
A consulting firm has not yet been found for the CAR study.
The total cost of the two studies is about $317,000. More than $180,000 of that cost will be paid by federal and state grants.
The airport sits on a 255-acre site on Routt County Road 129, also known as Elk River Road.
The seven-member steering committee, which formed meeting last month, will assess the information gathered in both studies and present a report of findings to the Steamboat Springs City Council.