Council to create airport commission

Draft ordinance taxied back to staff for minor adjustments

The establishment of an airport commission took one turn closer to taking flight Tuesday as the Cottonwood City Council directed staff to tweak a couple elements of the draft ordinance and continue rolling forward.

An airport commission would provide the City Council with knowledgeable suggestions regarding airport operations and development, provide a forum for public involvement and would ease the load off city staff who spend numerous hours dealing with aviation needs.

The draft was developed and reviewed last month by a subcommittee made up of city staff and members of the Cottonwood Airport Users Association.

"We think we have put together quite a good document and we hope you agree," Cottonwood Airport Users Association President Al Gradijan said. He added that he expects the commission to be very active since there is "a lot of catching up to do."

Gradijan believes an airport commission would promote economic development in Cottonwood, better handle operations and further develop the facility.

The draft ordinance closely mirrors ordinances established by other municipal governments in the state, said Public Works Director Tim Costello.

There were two components of the draft ordinance the council discussed and decided should be changed. Primarily, the council honed in on changing the number of commission members from five to seven, with two of the seven members being from the general public. The other change was the elimination of a hold harmless clause that was determined unnecessary.

The draft specifies that the commission shall consist of five voting members who have "a working knowledge of aviation matters."

However, council members agreed that there should be two additional members -- with at least one "outsider" who could give some fresh input and another member of the community possibly from the chamber of commerce.

"There should be someone on the commission who is in the flight path and would possibly disagree with the commission," Vice Mayor Randy Lowe said.

Mayor Ruben Jauregui and Councilwoman Diane Joens agreed.

"I think it's a good idea to bring in outside community members," Jauregui said.

Gradijan and other members of the airport users association did not welcome this idea.

Gradijan told the council he likes to get things done. And having someone on the commission who does "not know what they are doing" would only slow him and the commission down from making progress.

Another member of he airport users association shared similar sentiments.

Lowe came back by saying, "I know it can be tedious having to teach new people, but that's government."

He used a personal example of having to be taught a lot of things when he was new on the City Council. He reiterated the importance of including a person who will look at things differently.

Jauregui added that including someone new also helps make a skeptic better understand the intent of the commission.

"It's a lot different being on the outside looking in than being inside looking out," Jauregui said.

The city's legal department and the public works department will now rework the ordinance and bring it back to council for consideration at a later date.

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