Airport selects noise committee members
“Noise is the single biggest environmental problem for airports in the U.S.”
– Chris S. Ferrell, newly appointed Airport Noise Abatement Committee member.
Despite criticism, the majority of recently appointed Airport Noise Abatement Committee members at the Truckee Tahoe Airport District are pilots. But nearly all boast a depth of experience dealing with the public, airport operations or both.
Six new members were appointed by the airport’s board of directors in their regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, April 26. Four of the members possess a valid pilot’s license.
Of the 11 people who applied for the committee, Robert Horvath, Jim McCall, Steve Swigard, Gary Thomas, Chris Ferrell and Brent Collinson were appointed. Former airport board candidate and noise abatement advocate Lynne Larson was not appointed to the committee, but she was appointed as an alternate, along with Mike Golden.
Ponderosa Palisades resident Brent Collinson applied for a seat on the Abatement Committee both because he has valuable technical skills and because he straddles the fence on noise issues.
“My office is right across the street (from the airport). I am aware of the impact,” he said from his office Tuesday. “I also do mediations in in my law work so I am going to try to bring compromises both pilots and the people can live with.”
Collinson, a pilot, has been practicing law since he moved to the area in 1979 after graduating from McGeorge Law School in Sacramento.
Chris S. Ferrell is the only woman to be appointed to the committee. Currently she works for the law offices of Porter/Simon, but she is in the final stages of obtaining a bachelor’s degree from Embry-Riddlge Aeronautical University.
“I am excited. I think it’s going to be a challenge,” she said of her appointment to the Abatement Committee. “I wanted to get involved with the community, and I wanted to help the airport too, so this was a perfect match.”
A three-year resident of Ponderosa Palisades, Ferrell hears aircraft noise and recognizes its effect on the community. But as a pilot she also recognizes that airport policy and aircraft operating protocol can’t simply change to abate concern.
“It’s hard because you have to accommodate the community and the pilots and you can’t compromise safety,” she said. “Educating people is the key.”
Ferrell is also recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration as an aviation safety counselor. She received her pilot’s license about nine years ago, when she was just 21.
Still, airport critics say the board continues to appoint from within, hand-selecting its noise abatement candidates because they will reflect what the board wishes to do.
“How can they appoint anyone to look objectively by the board when they are appointed by the board?” said Parvin Darabi, who was an airport board candidate last November.
“I didn’t run (for the noise group) because I knew that whoever applied had to be approved by the board. I thought, ‘why should I humiliate myself because they will not appoint anyone who is against noise.'”
Ken Foster, the airport board member who volunteered to act as the liaison on the noise abatement committee, will be present for the committee meetings as well as David Gotschall, the airport’s new general manager.
“I was pleased with the board’s selection,” said Foster via a phone interview while vacationing in New Orleans. “I’m looking forward to meeting at least monthly and implementing my ideas as well as the ideas of the other committee members.”
Gotschall said he was also pleased with the candidates.
“Anyone on this list could be the next board member, pilot or non-pilot,” he said.
In other news, the board has authorized the district engineer to move forward with aerial photographs that will depict noise sensitive areas and alternative flight patterns to reduce noise. The photos are expected to be complete in the next several weeks.
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The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is addressing the threats of climate change by hosting a webinar on Friday, March 5, on the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.