By Michael Howell
The County Commissioners approved a grant application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for $40,000 to produce an amended version of the Environmental Analysis (EA) for Airport runway improvements. A previous EA which was approved by the county and the FAA in 2010 was rejected by the current commissioners last spring in order to consider another alternative and possibly a runway extension.
The cost of the EA is estimated to be about $75,000. If the county receives the FAA grant for $40,000 it would leave about $35,000 in costs for the county to absorb. At the meeting on September 15, Doug McLaren of the Ravalli County Aviation Safety Foundation told the commissioners that the foundation had voted unanimously to donate up to $35,000 for the completion of the new EA.
“The Ravalli County Aviation Safety Foundation places complete trust in you folks concerning decisions of safety at the airport,” said McLaren.
In the public comment portion of the meeting, Dennis Moore of the Informing Citizens about Airport Runway Expansion (ICAARE) group, who supported the original EA, asked, “Who will fund the legal battle?” He said that the commission has an EA that provides for safety at the airport. He said the FAA has confirmed that the original preferred alternative was a safe one. He cautioned that the group’s attorney had advised them that in his opinion a full EIS would really be required and cost up to $1 million.
“You say safety, safety, safety, but you are delaying safety,” said Moore.
The commissioners voted unanimously to apply for the grant.