Airport expansion criticized by local officials

  • Shanti Hahler<br>Edmonds Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:40am

EDMONDS — Some city officials and residents here say they think the possibility of expanding flights from Paine Field could be … a pain.

The two main concerns: noise and decreased property values.

“Edmonds is in the flight path for Paine Field for departures and arrivals,” Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson said. “Any additional aircraft coming and going would increase the noise factor, and a significant amount of arrivals and departures would erode property values.”

Haakenson said he is opposed to any expansion of Paine Field as it affects Edmonds, although he is willing to consider studies on the issue.

Over the past few years, Snohomish County staff have looked at adding limited passenger service to Paine Field to rev up economic development. Officials from the county and from Paine Field have visited numerous city groups including recently the Edmonds Rotary Club to discuss the matter and gather input. Airport director Dave Waggoner on Jan. 19 gave a presentation at a South Snohomish County Chamber of Commerce meeting on the issue.

The outreach effort, as executive management analyst Mark Funk called it, has received some flak from area city officials. Mukilteo officials have called the program a “road show.”

However, County officials say they are simply carrying out the 2002 economic stimulus action plan passed by then-Executive Bob Drewel. The plan includes an air-service market study completed last year, a study of potential airport costs if new air service were added and a public outreach program. Staff simply pushed up the third phase, Funk said.

“We want to hear from people, and we want them to tell us what their concerns are. If they’re concerned about noise, then we’ll study it. This is what we have public outreach for,” Funk said.

“There’s nothing on the boards right now – we’re looking at it, studying it, but nothing will happen any time soon,” Funk said.

Still, some Edmonds officials remain in staunch opposition of the idea. City Council member Michael Plunkett has been working for several months on a resolution opposing the idea. The resolution has undergone some changes, and discussion with Haakenson and other Council members continues, Plunkett said.

A resolution opposing expansion is scheduled to be on the Feb. 1 Council agenda for discussion, Plunkett said.

Historically, Haakenson and Plunkett said, the Council has approved resolutions opposing expansion of Paine Field, most recently in 1995. This is about the third time the idea has come up in the past 15 years, Plunkett said.

“I’m hoping it can be a cooperative and full agreement,” Plunkett said.

Council member Mauri Moore is taking a more cautious approach.

“I think the resolution needs some work,” Moore said. “My position is that I don’t know if and how it will affect Edmonds but I also think right now nothing is on the horizon that would threaten Edmonds in any way, shape or form. It’s a long-term process.”

Herald reporter Brian Kelly contributed to this story.

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