MARYSVILLE — John McCoy said it doesn’t matter which hat he’s wearing; he’d like to see commercial air service at Snohomish County’s Paine Field airport.
As a state representative, McCoy said Friday that he’s always traveling around the state and would like to fly from Paine rather that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“I always leave three hours before flight time,” he said of the drive to Sea-Tac. “Because I never know what the traffic will be.”
McCoy was among several speakers Friday at a session of the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce. All were proponents of commercial air service. Critics were allowed to ask questions, but not to try to attempt the turn the forum into a debate with negative comments.
McCoy said he supports commercial service as a legislator and while wearing his second hat as general manager of Quil Ceda Village for the Tulalip Tribes.
He noted that the recent Skate America program in Everett, which brought people to the area from around the world, is the sort of event that the tribal hotel would like to see happen more often. The skaters and their entourages stayed at the tribes’ new resort hotel.
“We didn’t build the place just for Snohomish County (visitors),” he said. “We need to attract more of that.”
McCoy said a local airport would be great for business travel and for tourism.
Dan Russo of Horizon Air also addressed the crowd, saying his company hopes to begin service at Paine in mid-May, with flights to Spokane and to Portland, Ore.. He noted that travelers to Portland can hook up there with national and international flights there.
Russo noted that his company is talking with Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, hoping to modify the existing airport buildings or add modular buildings, to get air service started quickly.
Snohomish County Council member John Koster noted that emotions have run high against the Horizon plan and for a similar plan by Allegiant Airlines to offer regular commercial service.
Many area residents oppose the plan, concerned that it will lead to unbridled growth that will create noise and traffic and lower their property values.
Koster said the county can’t simply elect to choose one side of the issue or the other because if it ignores all airline requests, it could lose the airport, which was a gift from the federal government. And he added that he thinks Paine can accommodate some commercial service without hurting Boeing, its main customer, or the community.
“I believe this can be a win-win for everybody in the county,” he said.