The price of security | SteamboatToday.com

The price of security

Airport, sheriff hopes county will cover the cost for another deputy

Gary E. Salazar

— The director of Yampa Valley Regional Airport and Sheriff John Warner are hoping the county will pick up the cost for an additional deputy to patrol the facility.

The Federal Aviation Administration has mandated tightened airport security nationwide since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but airports must figure out how to pay for these requirements.

Since the Hayden airport reopened Sept. 14, Warner said he has had to assign a deputy to monitor the airport.

The FAA requires that armed personnel be on airport grounds whenever flights land and depart.

Warner and Parker are expected to give a presentation to county commissioners Monday on why the county needs to hire an additional deputy

Warner said his office needs the additional deputy this winter when airport activity is expected to increase.

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With a deputy at the airport, Warner said he has one less deputy on patrol.

Parker agrees with Warner that an additional deputy needs to be hired to provide security at the airport.

“If the federal requirements stay in place for a long period of time, the cheapest way to handle this would be to schedule a deputy there,” Parker said. “If not, we would have to pay overtime to deputies or pay off-duty officers.”

Parker said the cost of the additional deputy could be shared by the airlines.

“Many airlines pay the airport for security on a rate basis,” he said.

Although the additional deputy issue is up in the air, Parker said he is moving forward to expand the airport’s north parking lot.

A majority of the airport’s parking, which is right in front of the terminal, was eliminated when the FAA banned any parked vehicles from being within 300 feet of terminals.

To ensure travelers can’t park in front of the terminal, the airport has placed concrete barriers around the building.

To provide parking, the airport plans on expanding the north lot and allowing passengers to park in the lot reserved for employees, he said.

“We hope to get back a good deal of the parking we lost,” Parker said. “The north parking lot was expanded some last year but now we will expand it farther.”

With travelers using the employee parking lot, a new lot for employees would also be constructed, Parker said.

“To construct these parking lots, we plan to use county labor and material,” he said. “We hope to keep costs at a minimum.”

As for the impact the tragedy has had on air travel, the airport will know that answer when its quarterly report is released in the middle of October.

Great Lakes Aviation has been operating five flights in and out of the airport, Parker said.

“My guess is passenger volume may be off a little bit,” Parker said. “The numbers might be off because people have a fear of flying and because of the economic conditions since Sept. 11.”

So far the sheriff’s office has not had a problem with passengers.

“We have had a great response,” Warner said. “It is important for people who are flying to know that it will take longer to check-in.

“People have to be patient and show up in plenty of time to go through the appropriate security levels.”