13 seek seat on aiport panel

The entrance to Minden-Tahoe Airport.

The entrance to Minden-Tahoe Airport.

The recent discussions about Minden-Tahoe Airport may have helped spurred some interest in serving on the Airport Advisory Committee.

Thirteen people have signed up for three seats on the panel that serves as a liaison between airport users and the county.

In August, the committee voted against a measure to seek disbandment by the county brought forward by Chairman Shawn Meehan.

Meehan expressed frustration that he couldn’t get the county to clarify the committee’s purpose. Instead, it was suggested the seven-member committee could work on a new mission statement at a November meeting, which was canceled due to a lack of quorum.

The committee is required to meet at least once a quarter.

Douglas County commissioners are scheduled to appoint new members to the committee and to several other boards at their Jan. 10 meeting.

An airport advisory committee was formed by the county in 1974, but commissioners disbanded it in 1976. The committee was restored in 1982, the same year a ballot initiative overturning restrictions of the airport’s growth was approved.

Two years later voters approved new weight restrictions that were essentially in place until the 2010 vote.

Around 200 people turned out for a Town Hall on Dec. 6 where airport users aired their grievances about the airport.

In a response issued shortly after the Town Hall, airport management said it will solicit community involvement and encourage the seven committee members to have open communications with the communities they represent.

Many of the people attending the Town Hall were concerned by rumors that the airport would expand the runway to allow commercial air traffic.

There is an extension of the main runway a half mile included in the airport master plan, which was approved by county commissioners without anyone weighing in, Dec. 1, 2016.

Airport officials said that was included with an eye toward bring fire bombers back to the Minden airport after more than a decade.

“During the next master plan update, the airport will remove the runway expansion comments,” according to the response.

However, it sounds as though airport officials would like to keep the tower proposed in the plan.

“A tower would enforce noise abatement procedures and prevent low flying aircraft from overflying neighborhoods and other densely populated areas,” according to officials.

A manned tower would control the airspace for five miles around the airport, requiring pilots to obey air traffic controllers.

As reported by The R-C back in January, any major change at the airport including any extension of the runway or installation of a tower requires a ballot measure.

One of the key complaints by airport users was the lack of a crosswind runway after it was shut down in the 1980s.

Airport Manager Frank Monack wouldn’t speculate on whether reopening that runway would also require a vote of residents but did say it was unlikely to get that far.

“The return of runway 03-21 is very unlikely due to the FAA’s current attitude towards intersecting runways,” he said in an email to The R-C. “In the past airport management has looked into options with the FAA regarding a glider runway and this idea has been poorly received by the FAA. At this point in the discussion I have only agreed, as requested by our airport tenants, to simply look into the feasibility and overall process with the FAA.”


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