Residents, pilots offer differing feedback on Truckee airport future
May 7, 2013
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  • TRUCKEE, Calif. — Despite getting diverse feedback on what people would like to see in Truckee Tahoe Airport’s future, some preliminary trends are emerging, officials said.

    In an effort to update the airport’s 1998 master plan, the airport district held eight public workshops in April and solicited feedback via an online survey.

    “We really want to listen to what people are feeling and saying and thinking we should do and shouldn’t do as an airport,” said district General Manager Kevin Smith. “It gets to our mission of a community airport that meets local needs.”

    Some ideas favored by community members include accommodating natural growth consistent with aviation and community demand, keeping undeveloped portions of airport property as open space, discouraging night operations and concentrating flight paths to focus noise in selected areas, Smith said.

    “I’d like to see (the district) continue their good work for the community and be nimble enough to respond to changing aviation needs,” said Janet Zipkin, a Tahoe Donner resident, adding that she’s not in favor of dramatic growth.

    Ideas not popular among residents, Smith said, include pursuing business jet activity in response to aviation trends and to increase aviation revenue; leasing public land for private aviation development such as hangars and fixed-based operator facilities; and building and staffing an air traffic control tower in an effort to improve safety and noise.

    “The airport needs a number of improvements having to do with safety and increased access for aviation-related activities as well as community events related to area safety, school and education, recreation, etc.,” said Jack Armstrong, a Sierra Meadows resident and licensed pilot.

    He added that airport maintenance should be more of a priority in the future.

    “A lot of our pilots just want to make sure that we’re spending money on airfield maintenance, and there’s some concern that we dive into a lot of community initiatives and we let the airport go,” Smith said.

    The airport district has a capital plan for airfield pavement, airport facilities and utilities, Smith said. According to the airport, since 2008, all airfield pavement has been treated, and work on facilities is under way, with utilities scheduled for the 2014 fiscal year.

    “It’s an airport first, so it’s nice to do all these other things, but let’s remember first and foremost, it’s an airport,” said Rob Lober, Crystal Bay resident and pilot.

    As of last week, 450 responses had been received on the airport’s future, said outreach coordinator Seana Doherty, owner of Freshtracks Communications.

    “Every comment will be, essentially, put into an appendix, and we’ll look at those, and then identify themes and trends,” Smith said. “… The key word with this whole process is, what do you want us to investigate?”

    A community input summary report is being prepared and will be presented to the airport district board at its May 23 meeting, Doherty said.