Meeting to address airport issues

Mayor says she wants all facts on the table

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A strong contingent of Kalispell residents aired concerns Monday over noise and safety issues surrounding proposed expansion of the Kalispell City Airport.

Their appearance during the City Council work session was the latest of many begun months ago by Steve Eckels in his bid for quiet skies over his neighborhood.

Others joined along the way, with a public meeting last week propelling more than two dozen to attend Monday's council work session. Nine people spoke.

Mayor Pam Kennedy decided to address the issues through a town hall-style council work session. She asked City Manager Jane Howington to schedule the meeting as a way to get all the facts on the table and hear a comprehensive retelling of citizen concerns.

Expected sometime in November, it will explain where the decision-making process stands on airport improvements and what those improvements could include.

And it will give both the council and the public a chance to have their questions answered.

There will be no decisions made or votes taken that night, Kennedy emphasized.

Eckels on Monday read a list of six citizen assurances, asking the council to consider adopting it as a binding or nonbinding resolution. It asks for reduced noise, greater safety, property value protection, financial responsibility for crashes, neighborhood upgrades from airport revenue and touch-and-go flight regulation.

Chris Corrigan said she accepted the airport's presence when her family moved to their home on Bison Drive in 1988, "but there's a lot more activity now … the noise at all hours is irritating. It's not a good idea to expand."

Her husband Sean questioned why the city would spend the money to upgrade from a B-1 to a B-2 airport that accommodates a larger class of aircraft, when those pilots already are well-served at Glacier Park International Airport. Convenience for wealthy jet owners should not override homeowners' use and enjoyment of their property, he said.

Mark Paulson has lived in his Third Avenue West home since 1978 and has become acclimated to noise from the airport. But that changed in the past couple of years, he said, when a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air began flying in low and fast several times a month directly over his house.

"That twin-engine plane is obnoxiously loud," Paulson said, and it's on the small side of aircraft that will be allowed if the expansion goes through.

After these and several more comments, Scott Davis pleaded with the council to "let them know you do have their best interest at heart, through [adopting] some sort of resolution."

A public hearing that is separate from the forthcoming town-hall style meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10 before the Kalispell City-County Planning Board to get public input on expanding boundaries of the South Kalispell/Airport Redevelopment Plan.

Reporter Nancy Kimball can be reached at 758-4483 or by e-mail at nkimball@dailyinterlake.com

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