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Harvey Field gives its update: Realigning Airport Way a possibility

SNOHOMISH — Officially, Harvey Field has to update its airport master plan in order to stay in compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Snohomish County.
But informally, it also has to keep, if not win the trust of, nearby residents.
It’s been more than two years since Harvey Field hosted a public update on its airport master plan, so it came as no surprise when 65 people showed up at an open house last week with what seemed like over two years’ worth of questions, comments and frustrations.
One of Harvey Field’s major proposals is shortening and widening the current runway and providing fill-culverts for flooding as well as a possible “relocation” of Airport Way out of concerns for runway use safety. The FAA and the county have to sign off on the changes. The public’s opinion will also be considered.
Jviation, a specialty company contracted to Harvey Field for the master plan update, ran the public meeting while members of the Harvey family, many who are also employed at the airport, watched from the crowd and chatted with people after the two-hour presentation and question-and-answer session.
The goal on hand is to update the airport’s 20-year master plan, with emphasis on FAA compliance for runway and flight pattern obstruction issues as well as getting into compliance with the county for floodplain and watershed density fringe code, since the airport sits within that county-designated area. Noise is also a major issue for nearby residents.
According to Jviation spokeswoman Hilary Fletcher, the master plan process is in the “solution phase” — the second phase of the overall plan — before the project can move on to the final layout plan.
Donna Taylor, Jviation senior aviation advisor, emphasized they have to put together a proposal of a new, standard runway that not only
encompasses FAA safety standards, but also doesn’t violate Snohomish County floodplain code. 
To make the runway safer, Jviation is looking at not only changing the runway, but also relocating Airport Way. The presentation last week laid out the different options they had researched, which included running the road closer to Springhetti Road, through some property the Harveys own. 
“Option 1 is the recommended preliminary realignment. In order to meet FAA runway safety and design standards the road and the runway must be separated and FAA has directed that the road be realigned as far south as possible on Airport property, ” said Harvey Field president Kandace Harvey post-meeting.
This phase of the project is expected to go through the end of this year.
The airport still has many hurdles to get over to finalize its plan, along with trying to work with nearby residents and other concerns brought up by the public.
The public raised concerns ranging from noise, finances, jets, Airport Road, traffic, the “jump plane” used for skydiving, and other tangents. The crowd’s vociferousness rose and fell with a few thought-provoking questions and even some heckling. A few of the most talked-about items from the public were noise concerns, and questions why the airport needed to do the runway update at all.
One nearby resident, Katherine Riley, was one of the few people whose question and cutting comments dropped the room to silence.
“There’s supposed to be a flight pattern that pilots follow, and they don’t — they come over my house, they fly at the valley level of FAA requirements, but my house is on a hill,” said Riley, who lives near Fifth Street and Avenue J. “I can look up at the bottom of an airplane, and see the nuts and bolts on the thing. I have to worry all the time … I have called, I have talked, I have participated, I have tried to stop… I am extremely frustrated to see this coming around once again.”
“There has been talk of commuter planes, of jet planes, and if the talk isn’t true, the perception is there,” Riley added.
Jviation assured the crowd that jet planes will not be operating at Harvey Field, and that the runway updates are for compliance with the FAA.
Other nearby residents said they also see pilots deviate from the designated flight pattern, a flight pattern that was instilled as part of the
airport’s noise abatement method years ago. The noise abatement rules and model are standards set by the FAA.
“The planes make awful noise,” one resident of nearby 111th Street said. “It’s like they’re doing combat missions, you know. This is a recreational airport. It’s not like they’re bringing people in to buy stuff on First Street.”
The project is being funded through FAA grants, state taxes and airport revenue.
“The FAA wants to make sure that what the airport is proposing is not less than what is actually required, and they want to make sure what we’re proposing isn’t anything
more than what is required,” Taylor from Jviation said. “It really gets a lot of scrutiny because it’s a significant investment and we want to make sure the investment is
sound.”
Harvey Field, a non-standard airport (no control tower) which covers over 200 acres, is estimated to bring in $9.2 million annually on visitor spending, and an estimated $14.9 million in regional business impact. The airport pays about $1 million in taxes and employs 243 people. Currently, it houses more
than 300 planes and aircraft at its hangar storage units on-site.
“Our focus really has been the runway,” Taylor told the crowd. “It’s absolutely a
safety issue.”

 

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