S’side airport board addresses ongoing projects

Tony Vader of JUB Engineering and Sunnyside Municipal Airport Advisory Board member Ted Durfey (right) discuss the advantages of AWOS systems at last night’s board meeting.

Photo by Jennie McGhan.
Tony Vader of JUB Engineering and Sunnyside Municipal Airport Advisory Board member Ted Durfey (right) discuss the advantages of AWOS systems at last night’s board meeting.

The Sunnyside Municipal Airport Advisory Board met last night, following a brief two-month hiatus, to discuss projects that are underway. Those project include the weather station at the airport, a courtesy car service and a draft of covenants for the airport.

The board in July reviewed and made a few changes to the airport’s protective covenants. A draft of the document was provided by Sunnyside Public Works Supervisor Shane Fisher at last night’s meeting, who explained he “…fixed some language.”

He said the draft copy of the document has added language that includes city references to ordinances that pertain to new building construction.

A clause that determines rules for the drilling of wells also has language that addresses the need for any wells to comply with Yakima Health District regulations, as well.

Fisher asked the board to review the draft before its October meeting. “We want to get a buy-in from the board before we bring the new airport covenants before the (Sunnyside City) Council.”

He said the city’s attorneys would also review the document.

The advisory board has also been for months seeking to obtain an accounting for the number of planes using the airport.

Port of Sunnyside Director Jay Hester said a camera has been installed, but it is not yet set at the right angle for recording tail numbers.

“Something is triggering it,” said Hester, showing the board photographs of the runway and a city pick-up that have been photographed by the camera.

Advisory board member Ted Durfey said, “Once it’s working the way we want it to, we can say how many planes are using the airport.”

Another project the board is waiting to see completed is the installation of an automated weather observation station (AWOS).

Fisher said the FAA is nearly ready to issue frequencies for the AWOS system. Once those frequencies are issued construction can be completed.

The board expressed pleasure at hearing the news, although it was noted that the process may take a while longer, depending on the FAA’s timeline.

Fisher also reported that a courtesy car for pilots using the airport may not be feasible. He said there are liability issues and a legal consultant with the Municipal Research and Services Center has indicated there may be legal issues if the city of Sunnyside was to provide the car.

Durfey, after reading a document provided to the board, said, “It appears a courtesy car could be much like the gifting of public funds.”

Fisher suggested local businesses might be willing to sponsor a courtesy car or shuttle service.

Airport Advisory Board member Gary Pira suggested that C. Speck Motors in Sunnyside may be willing to provide car rental services for those using the airport.

Sunnyside City Manager Don Day said he has dealt with similar issues in the past and the options are worth exploring.

“A consortium of private businesses might be willing to help with a viable solution,” he said.

The only action taken at last night’s meeting was the approval of the July 16 meeting minutes.

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