Airport battle moves to D.C. |

Airport battle moves to D.C.

Michael Schneider

As part of a big push to save federal funding for the Lake Tahoe Airport’s control tower staffing, city representatives met with several Federal Aviation Administration officials Wednesday in Washington D.C.

City Council member Tom Davis and Kerry Miller, city manager, and Keith Swanson, chairman of the airport commission, met with seven FAA officials for about a half an hour at the Department of Transportation.

Also present at the meeting were various congressional aides from senators’ and representatives’ offices who are supporting the push.

“The FAA had been going by the book,” Davis said from Washington, explaining the Lake Tahoe coalition offered the agency a chance to think about issues such as safety and the uniqueness of the geographical features surrounding the airport.

Davis said he pointed out to the FAA that President Clinton and Vice President Gore pledged governmental help in dealing with the community’s push to improve the basin’s environment.

He said one aspect identified as a detriment to the lake’s clarity at the Presidential Summit was the amount of automobile traffic in the region.

“This decision has undercut community efforts toward alternate transportation,” Davis said, outlining a contradiction with presidential promises and FAA policy.

Davis also said a Feb. 2 letter from seven California and Nevada U.S. senators and representatives to Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater urged the DOT to consider the safety aspects of the airport.

“If that won’t impress them, I don’t know what will,” Davis said.

Today, Davis and company will meet with Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Following that meeting are rendezvous with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., at 11:30 a.m., Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., at 2 p.m., and Vic Fazio, D-Woodland, Calif., at 4 p.m.

On Friday the former mayor will meet with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., if time permits, before the flight out of town.

The meetings will cover both airport issues and other concerns pertinent to the basin.

All of the above-mentioned senators and representatives have supported continued funding for the tower’s staffing for some time. Rep. John Ensign, R-Nev. also joined the fight to save airport federal funding, according to Davis.

Should the lobbying efforts fail, Davis said he will go straight to the vice president and attempt to make good on the vice president’s promise.

The FAA has decided to cut annual funding of about $200,000 for the tower’s private staff effective March 1. The DOT or federal legislation could override that decision, according to Janis Brand, assistant airport manager.

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