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Innuendoes, rumors swirling around airport

by Kelly Kite

Apparently, it is time to set the record straight concerning the airport. I have heard some amazing rumors and innuendoes, and in a couple of instances, some downright funny ideas about what is or might be about to happen.

Let’s start with funny first:

– There is a rumor out there, I am told, that there are plans for an underground electric train to run to the airport.

Facts:

While with the right timing and the right location an underground electric train might be considered to be forward thinking and future planning at its best – does that really sound like something that is looming in our near future? Absolutely not!

We should deal with innuendo next:

– County commissioners have started a movement to eliminate the weight ordinance.

Facts:

First, the county commission cannot by law overturn the weight ordinance. The only way the weight ordinance can be overturned legally is by the voters of Douglas County.

Second, the county commission didn’t propose to put it on the ballot. In fact, the only thing the commission did do is establish a citizens committee. This committee was asked to take local input to find out what local opinion was concerning what the airport should look like in the future. They were treated so poorly in both of their meetings and in letters to the editor that they were able to accomplish only a few of their goals.

My apologies to every one of those concerned people.

– The casinos are behind this movement to bring scheduled commercial airlines into our little airport.

Facts:

Lake Tahoe has an airport with an FAA-approved tower and terminal, and it is closer to the center of tourist trade at the Lake.

There has been no casino movement behind commercializing the Minden-Tahoe airport.

Some facts based in reality:

Fact No. 1: Reno Air was forced to sell its operation completely – just not enough passengers flying.

Fact No. 2: American Airlines cancelled 17 weekly scheduled flights into Reno – just not enough passengers flying.

Fact No. 3: Tahoe-Douglas Airport does not have the facilities in place to accept regularly scheduled airlines, nor the money to provide those facilities.

Fact No. 4: The casino core at Lake Tahoe has tried for years to subsidize and sponsor airlines into their airport, an effort that hasn’t yet been successful.

Fact No. 5: If Reno can’t support all of its flights, if Tahoe can’t maintain flights into its airport, Minden-Tahoe Airport stands little chance of attracting one.

Fact No. 6: This county commissioner lives in the Johnson Lane area and has no appetite for an expanded airport.

What does need to happen?

We need citizen input to develop a workable plan for the future of the airport.

We need to establish zoning for the area which allows “safe zones” for the protection of the existing as well as possible future residents.

We need to explore the possibility of a noise ordinance to further protect those residents of the area.

We need to identify the types of aircraft currently utilizing the facility in order to properly identify those we do and do not want here. Many concerned residents are not aware that the “gaming junkets” they fear most can legally utilize the airport today according to existing ordinances.

We must work together to accomplish these goals. Any ideas? Call me at 267-2626.

– Kelly Kite is a county commissioner representing district 1.