Steamboat Springs Airport Manager Mel Baker talks about how the airport is used.
Steamboat Springs A citizen committee has chosen a consultant to study alternative uses for Steamboat Springs Airport, but it is unsure if the city should fund such a study at all.
Michael Turner, co-chairman of the Steamboat Springs Airport Steering Committee, confirmed Tuesday the committee will recommend Denver consultants Matrix Design Group to the Steamboat Springs City Council. Matrix Design Group is consulting on projects including the redevelopment of the former Stapleton International Airport in Denver, a transfer of contaminated federal property at the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center to the city of Aurora, and the stabilization of hydraulic patterns in the Roaring Fork River.
The City Council has allocated $100,000 for a comprehensive study of Steamboat Springs Airport, including the facility's local economic impact and cost of operations, the potential for consolidation at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden, and scenarios for alternate uses of the 255-acre airport site.
At a Feb. 13 meeting, the City Council asked the steering committee to accept bids for the study. City transportation director George Krawzoff said the City Council is scheduled to review the committee's recommendation April 17.
"The committee voted 7-0 to recommend Matrix," Krawzoff said.
Should the council accept the recommendation, Matrix Design Group will become the second consulting firm to examine the controversial airport off Routt County Road 129. Armstrong Consultants, an airport engineering and planning firm based in Grand Junction, is already conducting a $216,000 study to assess possibilities for future growth and development at the airport and to update the airport's master plan.
The City Council appointed the steering committee in May 2006 to oversee the studies and then report to the council. The process is expected to take about 18 months.
Steering committee co-chair Jack Dysart, however, told the City Council last week that five of the seven committee members disagree with conducting an alternative study, primarily citing millions of dollars in grant funds that the city would have to repay the Federal Aviation Administration should the city change the use of the airport.
"I doubt the taxpayers will consider another $100,000 to mostly confirm what we already know as money well spent," Dysart wrote to the council.
Krawzoff said he will not discuss whether to conduct the alternative study with the City Council next week.
"It does us no good to keep going back to square one and to keep asking ourselves if we want to do this," Krawzoff said. "I think the council has been clear in its direction."
Turner emphasized that, in his view, the steering committee was appointed to oversee the studies, not to question their necessity.
"We were not appointed to decide whether or not a study should be done," Turner said. "But the committee is torn on this."