Nonprofit created to counter support for larger airport in Aspen [Aspen Daily News, 11/02/20]

A nonprofit group has been formed under the stated mission of providing “fact-based information to the public” about the ramifications of a larger Aspen-Pitkin County Airport.

Flight path
The Woody Creek community lies under a flight path for the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. Woody Creek resident Bill Dinsmoor has formed a nonprofit, Save Our Skies, for the purpose of providing information about the impacts that airport expansion would bring.  Image: Andre Salvail/Aspen Daily News

Save Our Skies was incorporated in July and lists its registered agent as Bill Dinsmoor of Woody Creek. Dinsmoor serves on its board, which also includes Wayne Ethridge and Phil Holstein, also of Woody Creek, and Ellen Anderson, of Aspen Village. Dinsmoor chairs the Woody Creek Caucus.

All four Save Our Skies board members served last year on the ASE Vision process, an initiative by the county to obtain community input on the potential redevelopment of the airport, which may include a wider runway and a larger terminal. After participating in various subcommittees within the process, they still take issue with the basic impetus driving the airport expansion discussion: that the CRJ-700 aircraft employed by the three major commercial carriers serving Aspen will be retired sooner rather than later, and a runway widening is necessary to accommodate next-generation jets with a larger wingspan.

Matt Moseley, partner and chief strategy officer for Denver-based communications firm Dovetail Solutions, confirmed Monday that he has been talking with the nonprofit about helping with their messaging. Moseley, who works out of Boulder, provided communications services for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit American Rivers when the organization got involved in the debate over the city’s proposal to develop a hydroelectric power facility using stream flow from Castle and Maroon creeks. In a November 2012 advisory vote, local residents narrowly shot down the proposal. American Rivers, and Moseley, were viewed as effective forces for the opposition.

“They have reached out to me and we are in some discussions about working together,” Moseley said. “It all depends on where this thing goes. There are some people who are really concerned about expanding the runway. We’re talking about working together and what that would mean within the various dynamics.”

The ASE Vision process got underway in early 2019 with the creation of four subcommittees and an overarching committee, the ASE Vision Committee, which will make final recommendations on airport redevelopment to the Board of County Commissioners. The subcommittee work was completed in December and the Vision Committee has been meeting since January. Pitkin County Manager Jon Peacock said he expects the Vision Committee to meet three or four more times, once a week, before handing off its suggestions to county commissioners.

In a recent print advertisement, Save Our Skies outlines its basic issues with the process. The nonprofit claims that the Technical Working Group, the subcommittee that examined issues pertaining to airside improvements, “was skewed favorably toward an aggressive approach to airside and runway development.” Aside from its contention that appointments to the technical committee ensured that the deck would be stacked in favor of airport expansion, the nonprofit also has concerns about the effects a larger airport, and presumably larger planes, would have on community safety, noise, pollution, traffic and growth

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