Friday, May 06, 2016

Lyon County to seek input on Silver Springs Airport (KSPZ) master plan

After being chastised for not seeking public input sooner, the Lyon County Commission plans to hold a series of town hall meetings to get public input on the proposed master plan for the Silver Springs Airport.

At a workshop April 14 in the Hillyard Hall Community Center, Lyon County Manager Jeff Page told the Board of Commissioners he will work on scheduling a series of town hall meetings to get feedback from the community on the future of the airport.

“I would like to have, once and for all, a master plan in place so we can decide what this airport is going to be when it grows up,” Page said.

The county manager said he would have a tentative schedule of town hall meetings to present to the board at its first meeting in May. Page said the county would ask for input from the community, all of the airport’s stakeholders and the aviation industry that uses the airport.

That came after developer Bill Miles expressed his disappointment that the commission held the workshop without first seeking public input.

At the April 14 meeting, representatives of Armstrong Consultants Inc., outlined their recommendations for the airport.

Armstrong Consultants Inc., is a professional consulting engineering firm specializing exclusively in airports that the county has contracted to work on a master plan for the airport.

Armstrong’s project planner John Rostas said the recommendations are not a list of things to be done now, but is based off of forecasted growth of the area and the use of the airport and is projected to meet the demands of the airport if that growth occurs.

“We want to make sure the airport meets the requirements for the types of airplanes that are using the airport, the number of operations that are taking place,” Armstrong’s airport planning manager Justin Pietz said.

Pietz said the Federal Aviation Administration requires that airports that receive federal funds update master plans every 10 years.

“It’s a plan, conceptual, and by no means is it set in stone,” Pietz said. “It needs to be justifiable, so a lot on the master plan will never happen, but you have to have a master plan for federal grant funding.”

Among the recommendations by Armstrong are to extend the runway from its current length of 6,000 feet to 8,440 feet; construct a parallel taxiway to south of the runway; construct a helicopter parking area; implement a nonprecision approach procedure, which is currently in progress; extend parking areas; improve lighting and signage; install an automated weather observation system; build a general aviation terminal building like a pilot lounge; install jet aid storage tanks; increase vehicle parking and add a snow removal equipment storage building and the equipment itself.

“(A runway of) 8,440 feet still provides suitable length for your corporate users and yet minimizes off airport impacts,” Rostas said.

There is no set timeframe for those improvements, Rostas said, but they would be included in the plan to be built if the need is justified by additional use.

“The plan is not to build an 8,000-foot runway; it’s if one was built, this is where it would be built,” he said.

Rostas said the plan was designed to lessen impacts on the surrounding community.

“We want to make sure development complements the community and doesn’t intrude on the community,” he said.

Miles objected to the plan being developed without asking the community whether it wants an airport with those amenities.

“Maybe you should ask the surrounding property owners, because I sure don’t want to see an 8,000-foot runway in Silver Springs at any taxpayer or Lyon County expense,” Miles said. “I’m very disappointed there wasn’t public input on this vision that affects the whole community prior to tonight.”

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