Pitkin County seeks input on Aspen airport | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County seeks input on Aspen airport

Michael McLaughlin
THe Aspen Times

Pitkin County is seeking community input on some of the potential design and runway options at the local airport.

Aspen-Pitkin County Airport is currently in the third phase of the Future Air Service Study that began in 2013. The study's first phase evaluated the current and future fleet of aircraft and their ability to operate at the airport. Phase II looked at potential airfield configurations to accommodate the anticipated larger regional fleet mix.

Phase III includes the gathering of public input on the runway options. Beginning Sept. 22, Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock kicks off a series of coffee chats at the airport every Monday and Thursday between 9 and 10 a.m. through the end of October. The informal chats will be held at the airport cafe.

Peacock is serving as the acting airport director until a replacement for outgoing director Jim Elwood is found.

"What these chats are really about is giving folks a chance to sit down with airport staff and see what we learned from phase I and II of the Future Air Service Study and the direction we could go," Peacock said. "We know the next generation of regional commercial aircraft will have wider wingspans that won't fit on our current airfield. We as a community need to come together to understand what we need to do at the airport to maintain a viable commercial operation long into the future."

Future aircraft capability will continue to be assessed during phase III. Because future aircraft will be larger with wider wingspans, the Federal Aviation Administration mandated that the airport runway areas must be widened to meet FAA safety standards.

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In addition to the twice-weekly coffee chats, there will be two public open houses during phase III. The first is set from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Pitkin County Library. The second is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 12. at the Airport Operations Center on Owl Creek Road.

Visual representations of airport runway alternatives will be displayed. Consultants and other experts will be on hand to answer questions and gather feedback. All phase III documents and visual representations will also be available on the airport website at http://www.aspenairport.com. The website will offer a place for public comment.

"Community involvement in this process is welcomed and essential as we put plans into place that will sustain the success of our airport," Peacock said. "We want this project to be something the entire community can be proud of."

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com

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