Friedman Memorial Airport

Friedman Memorial Airport, seen here earlier this month, will continue operations following two confirmed Blaine County coronavirus cases. 

Citing an increase in enplanements, the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board decided on Tuesday evening to approve a $71,350 work order with Boise-based T-O Engineers, allowing the airport to move ahead on a summer parking lot expansion project.

Tuesday’s work-order approval is conditional on financial review, Airport Manager Chris Pomeroy said.

“The goal is to be ready to go by July 3 and get the project out to bid,” Pomeroy said. “Right now, it looks like our finances are in place.”

The renovation project would likely involve moving employee parking from the southwest corner of the airport’s lower lot to an area west of the current administration office. The total project cost, $450,000, would include paving work, light installation and the addition of a concrete stairwell, Pomeroy said, and new large-vehicle and rental car spaces could be added.

“Currently the airport has 380 parking spaces, 172 of which are reserved for rental cars, taxis and handicapped users,” he said. “This project would increase overall stall capacity by at least 60.”

All board members agreed that the airport lot has been reaching maximum capacity more quickly than in the past.

“[This project] could make a huge difference,” board member Don Keirn said. “What are you to do when you get to the airport and there’s no place to park—go home and catch a cab?”

Board member Angenie McCleary agreed.

“I’ve seen some people park in the St. Luke’s lot, which has understandably impacted their services,” she said.

The board also discussed raising rental-car fees on Tuesday. By imposing customer facility fees on rental cars, Pomeroy said, that money could be funneled back into the airport’s rental car area.

“The fee could range anywhere from $2 to $5, and be used for related capital improvement projects,” he said.

Before introducing new rental-car fees, the board would need to adopt a resolution and engage an outside consulting firm to figure out an ideal payment structure. Board member Fritz Haemmerle said those steps would be well worth it.

“I’d say ‘yay’ to this idea,” he said.

In a report to the board, Pomeroy outlined a forthcoming runway and apron pavement maintenance project scheduled for this summer. Seal-coating, crack repair, pavement restriping and rubber removal would likely happen the first week of June, he said.

“This project could be quite impactful, but we’ll be working with T-O [Engineers] to minimize any impacts on travel,” he said.

For the runway rehabilitation section of the project, Pomeroy said, the airport would need to close in four-hour segments.

“Obviously it’s never convenient to have any closures, but this is one of our slower times of the year,” he said.

In other airport news:

  • Friedman Memorial Airport is still being considered for an FAA air traffic control pilot program that would allow controllers to supervise takeoffs and landings remotely with high definition cameras. The FAA’s focus is currently on Fort Collins, Colo., and Leesberg, Va., two airports that have joined the experiment.

  • The board will continue to discuss penalties for pilots who land overweight aircraft without receiving prior clearance. According to Pomeroy, the weight restriction is 95,000 pounds.

  • Tie-down fees will also be discussed at the next board meeting. On Tuesday, local pilot Carlton Green called the airport’s current tiedown fees “excessive” and said they have led pilots to move their planes to Jerome, Gooding and Twin Falls. “I used to see around 13 planes parked out in the wintertime. Now, it’s only three,” he said. “The [tiedown] fees are pushing general aviation out of this valley.”

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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