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Idaho's Friedman Memorial Airport may lose fed funding

Published: Sunday, Oct. 30 2011 10:54 p.m. MDT

BELLEVUE, Idaho — Friedman Memorial Airport in the resort area of central Idaho could eventually lose all commercial service and the $1.4 million it receives annually from the Federal Aviation Administration if the airport isn't improved, the facility's manager said.

Rick Baird told a meeting of the Bellevue City Council and Friedman Memorial Airport Authority last week that the loss of commercial service would drop the FAA's contribution to about $150,000, resulting in cuts to aircraft firefighting teams and snow removal.

About 130 Bellevue residents at the meeting remained firm in wanting the airport moved, the Idaho Mountain Express reported. Bellevue is several miles south of the airport's location in Hailey. The tourist-drawing resort towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley are 12 miles north.

Baird also noted that long-term grant assurances with the FAA as well as grants for land acquisition mean the current airport can't just be closed without a replacement airport.

"Closing the airport is not an option," he said, adding that the land grants were in place indefinitely.

The FAA said the airport should be moved because expanding residential areas and high hills make the airfield too dangerous. Local leaders are concerned about the potential loss of commercial service and the economic damage to Blaine County if that were to happen.

Baird said the FAA would provide about $100 million for a new airport, and that another $100 million would be raised through hangar fees. The rest, he said, would have to be raised through levies or bonds.

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