Letter: Heliport premature

Posted: Sunday, March 18, 2001

The idea to relocate existing heliports to alternative sites has been discussed for some time in Juneau. The idea originated from testimony at a public meeting several years ago.

Just over a year ago, former Mayor Dennis Egan asked the flightseeing operators to work with the community, the FAA and the Forest Service to devise solutions to the issue of noise. The satellite heliport concept was incorporated into the mix of ideas flightseeing operators examined.

As part of that process, operators identified 18 potential sites and developed criteria upon which to evaluate each location. Criteria included safety, noise reduction potential, access, economics and environmental impact. It was planned that the recently released noise study would be used extensively in evaluating potential heliport sites.

The city has started to look at how to further evaluate the sites identified, however, at this point there has been no formal evaluation or public process associated with the work the operators completed. It always has been presumed that such a public process would be essential to ensure community buy-in and the ultimate success of any satellite operation. Kim Metcalfe's suggestion that the Assembly adopt a resolution to expedite the location of all helicopter operations to the area of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor's Center is premature and lacks the most minimum requirements of concept- and site-evaluation, public process and community buy-in.

The flightseeing operators believe a comprehensive evaluation and viable public process are necessary in order to find viable, long-term solutions that meet both community and industry needs. We remain committed to working with the community in an orderly, neighborhood-sensitive manner. If you haven't already received it, in the next few days Juneau residents will receive an update from us in your mailbox aimed at furthering the communication and dialogue on all issues related to our industry.

We hope you will find the information valuable as we continue our efforts to find common ground.

Amy Windred

Friends of Aviation

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