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YVRA committee weighs upgrades

— Members of the Yampa Valley Regional Airport Steering Committee toured the airport Saturday afternoon and discussed ways to upgrade the undersized terminal.

Several members of the committee said the facility needs immediate work. Members said YVRA should be renovated in an effort to broaden investments in the airport, boost the tourist market, and get rid of temporary solutions such as the vinyl tents currently used for baggage checks.

“No matter how you look at it, directly or indirectly, this airport is the engine that drives the local economy,” Steamboat Springs City Councilman Loui Antonucci said.



Committee members said while building a new terminal is not financially practical, adding on to the west end of the building might be feasible.

“We have to do what we can now because we don’t have $30 million,” County Manager Tom Sullivan said.



The plan is for a 4,000- to 5,000-square-foot addition at a cost of about $550,000, Sullivan said. The county intends to get funding from the Airline Improvement Program — an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration that collects funds from airlines and returns money to airports based on passenger traffic — to help fund the expansion.

An architect will visit the airport and draw the first plans for the addition soon, and the next step is to discuss a contract, Sullivan said.

Improving the airport is necessary, said Andy Wirth, vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.

“We send 400 to 600 thank you e-mails per month to tourists, simply thanking them for coming to Steamboat,” Wirth said. “I get about five or six responses to those saying they love Steamboat, but they won’t come back because of a bad experience at the airport.

“That’s only five or six complaints, but we’re still talking about a serious degradation.”

Still Wirth reported that Steamboat had one of the highest rates among visitors with intent to return.

“We need to keep it that way,” Wirth said.

The committee also discussed plans for Routt County to enter an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Steamboat Springs and, “perhaps” the town of Hayden.

The agreement would create an airport authority that would be given decision-making power over YVRA and Bob Adams Field. Committee members questioned the accountability of an airport authority, since its members would be appointed not elected. The committee said the county should maintain control over the authority.

Because an intergovernmental agreement of this nature is new to Routt County, Antonucci said educating the public will be vital. Other committee members agreed and decided to make it public that Routt County would be attempting to enter into the intergovernmental agreement.

“I’m really encouraged to see the way things are moving along as compared to a year ago,” said Airport Steering Committee member Marty Kolonel. “We’ve made more progress today than we have in months.”

–To reach Nick Foster call 871-4204 or

e-mail nfoster@steamboatpilot.com


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