Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Developing Hollister’s Airport
By Luke Roney
The Hollister (CA) Free Lance News
Local pilots and residents concerned about the future of the Hollister Airport packed city hall Monday to listen to plans to make the airport an economic engine for Hollister, and to air their concerns that they may be getting left behind in the process. Airport Manager Bill Gere and some city council members envision an airport in Hollister that can accommodate corporate jets and act as an economic boost for the community by drawing business owners to relocate portions of their businesses in Hollister.
Gere’s report to the city council outlined a number of tasks to accomplish – such as developing a list of improvements for the airport, figuring out how much staff the airport needs and creating a maintenance schedule. Once those tasks are complete, Gere will apply for grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration to carryout the projects. Gere said he would have a work plan and implementation schedule by the Oct. 3 city council meeting.
“Up until a year ago, we weren’t doing much project-wise,” Gere said. “Next year we’ll have a bunch of projects.”
An FAA representative who was on hand Monday said that his agency supports the direction that Gere wants to take the airport.<>P”I see an airport in need of repair . but I do see an airport that is improving,” said Andy Richards, manager of the FAA’s Airport District Office in San Francisco. “If you determine that you want to make Hollister Airport a more viable airport . we’re going to be there to support you.”
But some local pilots who rent hangars at the airport are concerned that if the airport is focused solely on bringing in revenue, Hollister’s local aviation community will wither.
Deane Judd, who rents a hangar at the airport, said that Gere is not doing enough to get the support of Hollister’s aviators.
“I have a concern that along with all this enthusiasm, there is not a lot of enthusiasm from the airport community,” he said during the meeting. “The focus is on selling the FAA, selling the city council, there is no focus on selling the airport community”
Local pilot Kent Pierce said that the airport needs to grow somewhat to receive FAA grants and ensure that it is taken care of well.
“Improving the airport really consists of an either/or in my mind. Either it’s becoming better, or it is simply going to be deteriorating and getting worse,” he said. “I don’t think anybody has any designs for becoming a satellite of San Jose International Airport. Some growth is a necessary function.”
Hollister resident Karen Fortino told the city council that she was concerned about how a larger airport would affect the city.
“It will definitely impact us as a community,” she said. “Our concern is if the airport is expanded . is that something the community would get to vote for?”