The MSB Aviation Advisory Board meets this week. One of the items on the agenda is the prospect of the MSB taking over management responsibilities for some airports in the Mat-Su Valley. They are considering the Talkeetna, Willow, and Big Lake airports which are currently owned and operated by the State of Alaska (DOT).
The topic has been on the agenda of the Aviation Board meetings for a long time.
Right now, the only local gov’ts in the Valley that own/control airports are the cities of Palmer & Wasilla. The State of Alaska Dept of Transportation is responsible for managing all the other (non private) airports. We also have many private airports & landing strips. The biggest private airport is Wolf Lake.
FYI – the MSB conducted a poll at the recent Wasilla Fly-In event:
My theory as to why the MSB may be interested in airport management? GRANT MONEY. The MSB is always interested in federal grant money. (It seems as if we spend almost all of our MSB property tax money on operating expenses and the MSB can only actually do anything when we are able to obtain grant money.)
The State of Alaska DOT & the Cities of Palmer & Wasilla have received HUGE (multi million) dollar grants to improve their airports over the last several years.
This data is taken from the FAA’s grants database:
Here is the grant to the MSB for the Regional Airport Study (the RASP II)…which was the subject of a previous blog post:
^ I am still shocked at the mismanagement of the above study. $437,000 (in “free” federal funds!) for a “study” that was almost entirely shelved. The consultants spent a lot of time and effort studying & analyzing a future float plane airport site….And after they completed their report, the MSB land management director said that their chosen site would never work and the Planning Commission was pretty negative about it too. So this very expensive report (except for the 17 page Land Use Plan) was shelved. What a complete waste of time and money!
UPDATE – Response from MSB Aviation Planner Chris Cole on Facebook:
MORE BACKGROUND INFO:
Is the MSB really & truly NOT interested in taking over management duties for some airports? Is this idea being driven by certain AAB board members?
The MSB is known for NOT telling the whole story…plus don’t discount the fact that the MSB hired an aviation planner!
Here are various meeting minutes from recent AAB board meeting where the topic of the MSB sponsorship of airports was discussed (at length; at almost every meeting for the past year; plus AK DOT gave a presentation on the topic too):