Airport redevelopment meeting attracts few commenters

Just 12 people showed up Thursday at the Aspen Institute for the public’s first opportunity to comment on a plan for the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.

Pitkin County commissioners set up the meeting, which could have accommodated as many as 40 commenters, as an in-person opportunity for members of the public to comment on the recommendations made by committees that studied the issue for 15 months.

The meeting had been scheduled to run from 4 to 7 p.m., but concluded after just an hour. A second meeting will be held Monday on Zoom from 4 to 8 p.m. for those who didn’t want to comment in person. Three subcommittees studied various aspects of the airport — from the runway to a proposed new terminal to transportation services that ought to serve the airport — then reported back to a main Vision Committee.

The Vision Committee wrapped up its final recommendations just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring and finally presented its findings virtually to the five-member board of commissioners in April.

The pandemic slowed the process, and commissioners began focusing on the proposed project this month.

On Thursday, speakers included Wayne Ethridge, a Woody Creek resident, who urged the board to put the airport issue on this November’s ballot and former Aspen Mayor Bill Stirling who said the new terminal should be “net zero” and aesthetically pleasing.

The Pitkin Board of County Commissioners will meet later this month to talk further about accepting the Vision Committee’s recommendations and the next steps for the airport project.

If the board accepts the committee’s recommendations — which are different that those approved by the Federal Aviation Administration — it will likely trigger another federal approval process, said Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock.