Jury still out on multimillion-dollar Truckee airport hangar options | SierraSun.com

Jury still out on multimillion-dollar Truckee airport hangar options

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — While local support reportedly exists for the airport district to build a multimillion-dollar hangar that would serve aviation and community uses, questions still remain.

Of 50 nonprofit and service clubs interviewed recently on behalf of the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, 61 percent said "yes/absolutely" and 8 percent said "no" when asked if they would use an event space built by the district.

The remainder fell in the middle — 16 percent said "maybe" and 15 percent said "likely/yes," based on certain conditions.

Meanwhile, among 232 community/resident responses received on a FlashVote survey, hangar option 3 — at a proposed cost of $9 million — was the most popular, garnering 40.5 percent of votes.

Option 2 was the next popular with 20.3 percent, followed by no hangar at 19.4 percent and option 1 at 9.1 percent.

Lingering questions

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"I feel like we are in this funny space of every meeting we get better information on a given aspect," Lisa Wallace, board vice president, said during Wednesday's meeting. "Today we got a lot of better information on potential public use, and oddly it kind of makes the questions more confusing that we are trying to ask. … We keep saying, 'Oh, now we have a different question.' I just feel like we are there again today."

Some who spoke at Wednesday's meeting also raised questions, such as Northstar resident Linda Morris, who's concerned with increased plane traffic.

"I'm actually quite afraid of building a hangar, getting big planes in, increasing the traffic and using my tax dollars to do it," she said.

Meanwhile, Lou Reinkens, of Homewood, raised a question regarding priority use of the hangar if built, which resonated with board members.

"One of the things that came out of (the) study is that there would be more use of this (hangar) during winter and on holidays for the general public," said director Mary Hetherington. "Well, that's also the time period when it's designed to be used for aircraft, so we need to be real clear with this policy."

Wallace added: "Maybe what we are learning up to this point is that there are actually two demands, two needs. There might be two things that we thought we could bring together — a community hangar and a de-icing hangar — and maybe we can't. Maybe what we are actually learning is we can't put it together."

Instead, two separate projects may be ideal, director Tom Van Berkem suggested.

Next steps

Moving forward, the ad hoc committee for Hangar 3 ­­­— which directors Hetherington and Jim Morrison sit on — will go through all input before making a recommendation to the board, said Kevin Smith, general manager of the district.

"I'm appreciative of this (feedback) and will read through it and think about it, but I do want the general public to know that as one person on this ad hoc committee, my jury is still out on this," Hetherington said.

The item could return to the board for a decision either next month or September, Smith said.

At that time, the board would vote whether to select an option to move forward with for additional design, Smith said.

Upon project bids coming in, the board would decide whether to accept a bid and construct a hangar, which could occur as early as February 2016, he said.

If approved, groundbreaking could take place next summer, with construction taking about a year to complete.

The multi-use hangar was identified in 2013 during an airport master plan update outreach process as a favored capital project by both community members and pilots.

Three options

1. Estimated at $3 million, this hangar could house small to large aircraft including business jets year-round with warming and de-icing capabilities. In addition, it could accommodate a 220-person gathering, but wouldn’t have kitchen space for food preparation and would require portable toilets for an event.

2. Estimated at $6 million, this hangar would have the same aviation capabilities as option one, but with additional community amenities including in-floor heating, a backup generator and restrooms to accommodate 200 people. It would not include kitchen facilities.

3. Estimated at $9 million, this hanger would have the same features as option two, but would have restrooms that can accommodate 600 people, a commercial kitchen area, additional community meeting space and exterior canopies.

Source: Truckee Tahoe Airport District, truckeetahoeairport.com