Aspen airport committee can’t agree on runway expansion [Aspen Daily News, 08/10/19]

The work of five committees tasked with developing a plan for the future of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport continues, with one of the groups issuing a recommendation last week to proceed with discussions about terminal improvements — and to slow down the process for air-side improvements until more data is available on potential impacts to the community.

At Wednesday’s joint meeting of all the ASE Vision committees at the Aspen Meadows’ Doerr-Hosier Center, members of the Community Character Committee spoke about their report’s conclusion that terminal planning be “prioritized.” But in trying to gauge the impacts of a runway expansion — a project deemed necessary by expansion supporters so that a new generation of commercial aircraft with a wider wingspan can be accommodated — “the group felt hampered by the absence of baseline data within areas of community concern.”

Those areas of concern, as noted by the committee, including air quality, noise levels, vehicle trips and light pollution. The committee recommended “fast-track data collection” to develop such baselines, and then proceeding with air-side planning only after the impacts, good and bad, are discussed.

“The connection of people to a place is a form of social capital, perhaps the single most important factor in whether a real community exists in a place,” Caskey said. “Bluntly, we make money on our unique character and environment. People pay to come here and enjoy it and bask in it. Maintaining character makes money.”

“It’s profitable to protect the goose that provides those golden eggs,” Caskey said. “What’s good for the community is what’s good for the airport. It is a community airport.”

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