Members of the Steamboat Springs Airport Steering Committee held an unofficial meeting Thursday to discuss the results of interviews conducted in conjunction with a study exploring alternate uses for the airport.
The meeting of the citizens committee was unofficial because a quorum of five of its seven members was not met. Committee member Eric Morris has been activated as a member of the National Guard and couldn't attend.
The committee considered a memo from consultants Matrix Design Group, commissioned by the city to do a $100,000 study of alternate uses for the Steamboat Springs Airport, also known as Bob Adams Field. One of the first steps in that study was to interview a collection of 48 "stakeholders" - airport tenants, community leaders, government officials, etc. - on the pros and cons of the airport.
"The majority of the stakeholders surveyed indicated the airport should remain open," the memo read.
Primary benefits cited for keeping the airport included:
- It provides safety and usage benefits by separating small private aircraft from commercial service and larger private aircraft at Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.
- It services local businesses that use small airplanes in their operations.
- It enhances the local economy by attracting high-end visitors with private planes who generate sales for local businesses.
Some negative opinions on the airport included:
- It provides little value to the general public and only serves the needs of a privileged few.
- Its city subsidies are too high.
- Its economic benefits are greatly overstated.
- It is redundant and unnecessary because YVRA can accommodate all of the region's aviation needs.
Some suggestions for an alternate use of the airport included a special events venue, a racetrack, recreation, big-box retail, industrial, mixed-use development and affordable housing.
Committee member Bill Jameson said the interviews should put to rest anyone's concern that the public be included in the study.
"They've had their input, now Matrix is going to get on with the meat of the study," Jameson said.
The next step for Matrix is to test and verify the information provided by the stakeholders and find out what is fact and what is fiction. Matrix will give an interim presentation to the steering committee at a meeting scheduled for Oct. 4. Their final presentation isn't expected until February.
The committee said it was pleased with the consultants' work thus far, although there were concerns about how they communicated with the committee.
"We seem to have lost control of the consultants," said committee co-chairman Michael Turner. Turner and other committee members said they felt out of the loop and requested to be included in e-mail correspondence from Matrix that was being sent to city Director of Transportation George Kraw-
Krawzoff also was frustrated with Matrix for not notifying him until Wednesday that they would not attend Thursday's meeting.
"That's something that has to go away," Krawzoff said.
The steering committee's meeting was the first of two airport meetings held Thursday. A separate study, at a cost of $216,000, is being conducted by Armstrong Consultants and will be used to develop a master plan for the airport under the assumption that it will remain. In advance of a presentation to the Steamboat Springs City Council on Aug. 7, Armstrong Consultants held a public meeting Thursday night to discuss the group's latest findings.