Outreach planned on airport
Community outreach meetings to discuss the Lake Tahoe Airport will be rescheduled once public relations material has been completed, City Manager David Jinkens said Friday.
A meeting arranged with the League to Save Lake Tahoe last week was canceled two days prior. City officials said airport manager Smokey Rickerd would be out of town and unable to attend.
A contract for $10,000 with transportation marketing firm Moore & Associates of Valencia was signed on June 6, the day a controversy erupted over a five-acre clear-cut of 387 trees northeast of the airport. The trees were cut down in May.
According to memos between Rickerd and Jinkens, it appears negotiations to bring on a PR firm were several months in the making.
It was unclear as of press time whether Moore & Associates was still employed by the city to conduct outreach on the airport. The contract indicated services would be provided through July 31.
Firm principal Jim Moore declined to comment Friday when asked whether they had invited the League to the meeting.
“Our assignment is completed with them,” Moore said.
Later that afternoon, Jinkens wrote that the firm is still employed by the city.
League representatives said they were invited to the Aug. 2 meeting three weeks beforehand and had sent a notice out to 1,000 members and the press to see who would like to attend.
They were told Rickerd would give a presentation and be on hand to answer questions and take feedback on the airport. Up to 50 people could attend, the PR firm told the League. On July 31, a firm representative called to apologize, saying the meeting was canceled, according to John Friedrich with the League.
“Moore & Associates began setting up meetings before the final public information materials had been completed and reviewed,” Jinkens wrote in an e-mail. “Therefore, the meetings were canceled and will be rescheduled when the presentation is complete and has been reviewed by the Airport Commission.”
Friedrich with the League said they are looking forward to having a dialogue with city officials on the airport.
“This city should have a meeting with the public, especially the South Lake Tahoe taxpayers who pay for the airport,” Friedrich said. “The city should describe to the public its intentions, what their designs are for airport operations and get input from the public and what it wants to see happen there in the first place.”
The airport operates at a loss of $500,000 a year, which is made up for in city subsidies.
Jinkens said more meetings would be scheduled.
“In addition, a PowerPoint presentation is being prepared and finalized so that public outreach meetings can be held with public- service groups such as the Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions, as well as any other interested groups and organizations,” Jinkens wrote.
A memo dated April 26 from Jim Moore to airport manager Rickerd outlined the three services the firm would provide.
“First, to inform and educate the South Lake Tahoe community as to the value of the airport and its tenants, reducing opposition to the airport’s efforts,” Moore wrote. The second would be to increase awareness of the airport in the aviation community. The third service would be to answer “standard” questions posed by the community with consistent responses.
On May 24, Rickerd wrote to Jinkens recommending he approve an agreement to hire the firm.