Airport remodel passes, 3-2 |

Airport remodel passes, 3-2

Michael Schneider

The two newly elected South Lake Tahoe City Council members took a stand Tuesday night but fell one vote short.

Brooke Laine and Bill Crawford voted against a proposal to spend $70,000 to remodel the lower level of the Lake Tahoe Airport. The remodel will allow the city’s housing department to use the space for its offices.

Laine’s call for Judy Brown, Tom Davis and Hal Cole not to bow to pressure to get some activity at the airport fell on deaf ears.

Crawford first raised the issue of tabling the vote to allow the housing department to look into moving to the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center at 3140 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

The center, which is owned by the city, will be vacated when the offices are moved to the Lake Tahoe Christian Fellowship offices on U.S. Highway 50 across from South Tahoe Middle School.

Patrick Conway, housing coordinator, told the council the department had not looked at the Women’s Center during an office search because they didn’t know at the time it would be available.

“This is a short-term solution to a long-term problem,” said Laine, who was strongly opposed to the decision. “This move would send out a mixed message – When we’re trying to court airlines, we’re giving away half the terminal.”

Laine then told the other council members that if they were feeling pressure to do something with the airport then they should talk to Greyhound Bus Lines.

The Greyhound bus stop was recently nixed from Harrah’s Lake Tahoe after serving the hotel for more than 20 years. The bus service is reportedly unhappy with its new digs at the Horizon Casino Resort and would like to move to the airport, according to a source at the airport.

Then, to a comment made by Conway that the Women’s Center is dilapidated, Laine retorted that she felt the airport was dilapidated.

“This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Laine said.

Davis, who voted for the airport remodel and has been a leader in the effort to bring a commercial airline to the airport, said he didn’t see a conflict with moving the housing department to the airport. He did say the council should look at the Women’s Center although he voted not to table the decision to allow for that.

Mindy Johnke, Oasis Aviation, Inc. general aviation marketing director, told the council Oasis was not vigorously opposed to the remodel, but said she agreed with Laine that it would send a double message to the community.

Crawford moved to table the discussion for 45 days.

The motion died for lack of a second but Laine moved to table the discussion for 45 days to allow time to explore the Women’s Center and other options with Crawford seconding.

Although Conway said the bid award would be valid for 90 days, the motion died, 3-2.

Cole then moved to award the airport remodel bid to Thomas Haen Company, Inc. for $67,641. Davis seconded the motion and it passed 3-2 with Brown also voting affirmatively.

Haen’s bid was about $5,000 less than the next lowest and about $15,000 less than the architect’s estimate, which Conway admitted was a bit high.

Cathy Kope, the housing and economic development assistant who put together the staff report for Tuesday’s meeting, said she expects construction to begin at the airport within weeks.

The need for additional office space by the housing department was created when a new member was added to the housing staff to help with planned city redevelopment. The three-person department was operating out of a small office.

Cole said he thought it was important that the department have a place to meet with outside agencies other than a cramped office.

Despite the city’s recent push to consolidate and eliminate positions to save money, otherwise known as Destination 2000, City Manager Kerry Miller said the housing department is not funded by the city’s general fund of which Destination 2000 was created to protect.

Miller said the department is funded by a combination of housing grants and redevelopment funds.

The Lake Tahoe Airport has been without commercial passenger service for about two years.

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