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The new Mat-Su Regional Aviation System Plan’s crash landing


alaska bush airplane floats

UPDATE:  This aviation plan cost $457,170.  Here is the note from the April 21, 2015, MSB Assembly meeting approving the contract amount.



The MSB Assembly will take up the new Mat-Su Regional Aviation System Plan (“RASP”) at their March 6, 2018 Assembly meeting.

The MSB Manager is recommending that the Assembly “acknowledge” receipt of this plan and file it away as a “helpful document” but NOT adopt it into borough code as originally recommended because the plan has problems.

Technically this new plan is Phase II of the RASP.  Phase I was adopted into MSB code section 15.24.030 in 2008.  Phase I of the plan directed that Phase II should be completed and focus on identifying a location for a future regional float plane facility.

Spoiler alert:  The MSB has no intention of developing Sevenmile Lake as a floatplane base because of environmental and cost concerns and the MSB staff believes that there are “really no feasible options for a float plane facility in the area identified.”

Here is the proposed MSB ordinance which summarizes the issues and recommends that only the “Plan Use Guide” of the report be adopted (into MSB code 15.24.030):

OR 18-001 MASP

Interestingly, the MSB Aviation Advisory Board recommended the adoption of the RASP Phase II (the full report) into MSB 15.24.030 at its May 25, 2017 meeting.

AAB may 25 2017 meeting minutes 20170525draft


The MSB Planning Commission, at its October 9, 2017 meeting, recommended that the MSB Assembly delay adoption of the RASP Phase II until it was economically feasible.

Note: At the Planning Commission Meeting, MSB planner Christopher Cole provided a staff report and recommended approval of the plan. (This is very confusing; apparently, the MSB Planning Dept was in favor of this plan before the Manager and the Community Development Director came out against it.)

The Planning Commission was extremely critical of this Aviation Plan:

Commissioner Healy: “Opined that this plan is unrealistic, seriously flawed and dead on arrival.”

Commissioner Anderson: Seconded the concerns of Healy and “stated that this reminds her of the port.”

Chair Vague: This reminds her of the ferry.


Here is the complete plan and all the background info:


The first two pages of the MSB Information Memorandum serve as an overview:


The plan, which consists of approximately 500 pages of material, was prepared by DOWL engineering and Northern Economics and completed in April 2017.  It contains four basic parts: The Refined Airport Floatplane Base location study (Southwest Mat-Su); Aviation Activity Forecast/Demand in Mat-Su; Economic Contributions of Matanuska Susistna Borough Airports; and Mat-Su Regional Aviation System Plan Land Use Guide.


How much did we spend for this report which we are just filing away?

So, Dowl’s proposed Sevenmile Lake Float base plan is DOA…Why didn’t the MSB Planning Department let Dowl know that their primary proposal was not feasible before their plan was finalized???? How much time and money was spent by Dowl preparing the lengthy section devoted to the Sevenmile Lake proposal?

Why weren’t the environmental, feasibility and cost concerns addressed much earlier in the planning process? 

This email exchange was included in the Informational Packet.  The MSB Community Development Director, Eric Phillips, is fairly critical of Dowl’s analysis of the Sevenmile Lake site and he explains why to Eileen Probasco, the MSB Chief of Planning.  Why didn’t the Community Development Director review the aviation plan (which was completed in the Spring of 2017) until Jan 2018?

Scan_20180227 (7)

And this is interesting….The lead planner for DOWL who worked on the RASP Phase II project was Chris Cole….who is now employed as a Planner with the MSB.  The MSB hired him the month after the RASP Phase II plan was submitted to the MSB.  (Now, if the DOWL report was problematic and the MSB is not accepting the recommendations made by DOWL, why did they hire one of the DOWL project leads?)


Does/Did our community really need or want a regional Float Plane facility anyways??

The Mat-Su Borough aviation community seems much more invested in other aviation projects, such as the new Big Lake airport expansion, the Palmer airport expansion, and the proposed Wolf Lake airport CUP (Assembly member Doty seems to have an extra special interest in Wolf Lake…hmmm…)…







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