Big Bear Airport Board Decides to Wait on Land Acquisition

Thursday, April 12, 2007
Airport board won’t rush on decision
The Big Bear (CA) Grizzly

The Big Bear Airport board decided the best action was no action at its April 4 board meeting. The board didn’t vote and didn’t give instruction to staff on the possible Bear City Park purchase. The airport board faced a crowd of more than 30 people, most of whom attended the meeting to hear if and when the airport would move forward with the park purchase. Bear Valley Recreation and Park District Director Reese Troublefield said the Park District is still waiting on an appraisal by San Bernardino County. Troublefield also mentioned the possibility the park could be purchased by a benefactor who wished to remain anonymous.

Board member Gary Steube said he wants to see the appraisal by the county before moving on with the process. Steube also said he was interested in hearing from the Federal Aviation Administration before the airport board takes any action. The FAA may have oversight on any land exchange since most of the park is within a runway protection zone. The FAA seeks to control runway protection zones and discourages group activities within the limits of those zones.

The airport board expressed interest in acquiring an FAA grant to purchase the park property. If the land is purchased with FAA grant funds, the Big Bear Valley Historical Society Museum would have to move, said airport general manager Garry Dokter. Although the Historical Museum sits outside the runway protection zone, the FAA only allows aviation compatible uses on lands purchased with grant money. Aviation compatible uses are limited to agriculture.

Bear City Park is made up of four parcels. Troublefield suggested that the benefactor could purchase the parcel of land the Historical Museum sits on. Airport board president Jay Obernolte said the he would like to hear more from the benefactor and the FAA before any decision is made. FAA Los Angeles District Program Manager Chuck McCormick has been invited to the May 9 airport board meeting, Dokter said.

The airport board was approached by the park district to purchase the property in February. Former park district director Kathy Campbell called the airport “the logical owner” of the property since only aviation-compatible activities can occur on the property. The FAA encourages airports to purchase property within runway protection zones to prevent development of the land. If the airport purchases the property from the park district, the money from the sale would go to developing a new park in Big Bear City, according to park district officials. The airport has not applied for an FAA grant to purchase the land.

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