FAA, commissioners to discuss Aspen airport plan | AspenTimes.com

FAA, commissioners to discuss Aspen airport plan

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – A Federal Aviation Administration official will meet with Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday to discuss the county’s development obligations at the local airport, among other issues.

Commissioners will spend a considerable portion of their work session Tuesday discussing issues related to an updated master plan for the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, a draft document that is nearing completion. The discussion begins at 1 p.m. in the Rio Grande meeting room off the library plaza and is slated to wrap up at 3:30 p.m.

For members of the public who haven’t followed the master-plan discussions closely, Tuesday’s meeting might be a good one to attend or catch on GrassRoots TV, said Jon Peacock, county manager.

“I think it’s going to give everyone a clear picture of what this process is,” he said.

The first 90 minutes of the session will be devoted to an overview of the master-plan process and current status of alternatives for future development. Aviation Director Jim Elwood recently announced reductions in the size of some components of the plan, including hangar space for private aviation on the west, or Owl Creek, side of the airport and in a proposed underground parking garage.

Commissioners have been leaning toward a phased approach to construction of a new terminal, if that project proceeds, and the plan reserves space for an 80,000-square-foot building – a size that has alarmed some in the community.

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Allocating space for future facilities doesn’t mean they’ll get built, and a separate review process will be necessary for the development of anything that is built, Elwood has maintained.

“I don’t think there’s a clear understanding of that in the public right now,” Peacock said.

From 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., commissioners are scheduled to meet with John Bauer, manager of the Denver Airports District Office for the FAA, to discuss a host of topics, including obligations that come with accepting FAA grant funds, the agency’s minimum standards for airport facilities and fixed-base operations. The airport currently has one fixed-base operation, run by Atlantic Aviation, which services private aviation and sells fuel for both commercial and private aircraft. Interest from the private sector in establishing a second, competing fixed-base operation was a trigger for the master-plan update, according to Elwood.

Wingspan restrictions at the airport, which recently led to clarification by the FAA on what constitutes wingspan, is also on the agenda for Bauer.

Time for public comment and questions from commissioners begins at 2:45 p.m.

The master-plan process is expected to wrap up this summer, with a final draft before commissioners possibly in July. More detailed financial estimates of elements in the plan are slated for presentation to commissioners in June.

janet@aspentimes.com