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  • Writer's pictureBruce Mattare

Our Community Airport

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

Since announcing my candidacy, I've had the good fortune of meeting our Airport Director and many of the pilots who use it. But first, let's talk about the role of our community airport.

Where does our airport fit into our growing community and where should it be in 10 years?

This is a question where you, the Kootenai Citizen, needs to make your voice heard. It's our community and we should have a say in it. One of my observations is that as the community has grown, I've noticed a lot more traffic from jets (actually all aircraft).

Having lived near major airports (including the flight path of the Concorde Jet), the noise does start to become a nuisance when the traffic hits a certain level. Some people here have expressed that we're already at that point. On some days it's hard to disagree with that assessment.

One of the nice things about having a small airport is that the opportunity exists for recreational flying in an environment that avoids the larger commercial traffic. It makes flying accessible and helps to define the character of our community.

My personal belief is that we should focus on keeping our airport smaller and not attempt to compete with commercial service against our local international airport across the state line. Few people realize it's been tried before and failed.

The Airport Director

This is the person responsible for running the airport. There is a strong need to understand FAA rules and regulations, general airport operations, and the connection between the local government and airport facility.

Further, like in any organizational chart, the customer is on the top and the CEO is on the bottom of an upside down triangle. The CEO's job is to create an environment where his or her VPs can do their job to support the line staff to serve the clients, customers and/or stakeholders.

With the airport, there are two main stakeholders: the pilots/hanger owners and the surrounding community. These two constituent groups can make the job more challenging, but that's what I believe the mission is of this position. The airport director has the added challenge of also serving his or her boss, the BOCC. It's a challenging position.

The Pilots / Hanger Owners

The local airport association is comprised of a great group of people with diverse backgrounds and deep knowledge of the rules and history of the airport. The people I've met are extremely successful at their endeavors and have a wealth of knowledge of what works and has not worked here and at other local airports throughout much of the country.

These people are a valuable resource to the community, airport director, airport board and BOCC when it comes to our community. Their input on issues has been valuable.

The Community and Taking Airport Responsibility Away from the BOCC

The BOCC is currently in charge of the airport. There's an effort to try and move that responsibility away from the BOCC and create a new board comprised of members from each of the local cities, thereby diluting the ability of the community to manifest changes at the airport. I'm not a fan of this new way to govern our local airport.

How our airport grows or modernizes can have an impact on fiscal policy. Many of the grants provided by the FAA have matching funds requirements. We could accept FAA grant funds and later find ourselves on the hook for millions in matching funds.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing if we plan on increasing revenues from use. But increasing revenues will most likely be linked to more air traffic, which may not fit our long term goals with the airport.

My hope is that we can make the airport a local resource to provide affordable access to flying while keeping large plane traffic at a minimum. Where that optimal blend is should be provided by all of the airport stakeholders, including you.

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