Airport board member calls for ‘attitude adjustment’ | SierraSun.com

Airport board member calls for ‘attitude adjustment’

David Bunker

Airport board member Michael Golden called for an airport “attitude adjustment” and encouraged staff and the board to promote a small town atmosphere at the airport in comments at Thursday’s airport board meeting.

“Our board of directors needs an attitude adjustment, and that is where this must start,” said Golden in a written statement of his comments. “… We’re a small town airport with a perception of big city aspirations. That perception is damaging, and it must change immediately.”

Golden, who strongly opposes a new terminal building and the construction of another runway at this point, said the airport should not encourage increased air traffic. He also encouraged the board to take a more active role in directing the management of the airport.

“… we as a board , collectively, need to take those actions necessary to bring back the friendly, quaint, and intimate atmosphere of a small town airport,” said Golden in the statement. “…We need to take it upon ourselves to correct our errant ways, to set an example of professionalism, and to ensure that management adheres by our guidance as provided herein.”

A large part of the problem with the airport’s relationship with some residents, said Golden, is that the board is out of touch with the Truckee community.

Golden’s comments come at a time when the airport is facing increased scrutiny over aircraft noise and a draft Land Use Compatibility Plan (CLUP) that shows a strong increase in air traffic that could restrict Truckee development.

Public meetings on the CLUP, a plan that governs development near the airport for safety reasons, have become a forum for many airport-area residents to discuss the direction of the airport, projected air traffic increases and noise concerns.

Golden’s comments also painted the picture of a contentious atmosphere among board members. He called certain behavior from board members “inappropriate, unprofessional and flat out ignorant.” Board President Ken Foster said that he disagreed with Golden’s approach in bringing up his opinion, but had no further comment on the statement.

The increasing discontent of a group of residents with the airport is more relevant than ever as the November board elections draw closer. During public comment at airport meeting, several citizens have reminded the audience of the approaching board elections. Golden said that many pilots are also unhappy with the airport’s direction.

“Finally let me assure you, in no uncertain terms, if we fail to bring back the atmosphere of a small town airport, if we fail in our efforts to manage the manager, if we fail to change the manner in which we as an airport are perceived by our constituents, there will be consequences, including a wholesale change in the composition of this board in the months which lie ahead,” said Golden in the statement.

But while Golden opposes a big city airport mentality, he also opposes hiking transient use fees that would charge non-local pilots higher landing fees. According to Golden, raising the fees would do nothing to discourage pilots from flying into the airport.

Golden says that the airport should not encourage non-local pilots to fly into the airport by building a new terminal, another runway and a de-icing facility. However, he opposes measures that would discourage air traffic.

The airport should promote an attitude that says, “the door’s open; come in and be a part of the community,” said Golden in an interview.

“An attitude adjustment need to take place right here, right now from the top down,” read Golden’s statement.

Airport Manager Dave Gotschall said he would not comment on Golden’s statement until he had an opportunity to review it. He said the comments were a total shock to him and that he plans to meet with Foster and Golden to discuss the statement.