Commission mulls over airport beacon location

FAA seeks to move navigation equipment to Craig airport

After the Friday's Moffat County Commission meeting it is still yet to be decided if Craig's airport beacon will in fact be moved.

Because the beacon, which currently sits atop private property 2.5 miles from the Craig airport on Breeze Mountain, requires maintenance and access to the area can sometimes be difficult, the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed it be moved to the Craig Municipal Airport.

The beacon is a rotating light that guides pilots visually into the airport.

County Commission Chairman T. Wright Dickinson said the board is currently exploring options and is not prepared to make a final decision. Dickinson also said that after a meeting regarding the move, the overwhelming consensus appears to be that the beacon should be left on Breeze Mountain.

The beacon, which is estimated to be more than 50 years old, has become questionable because of recent maintenance problems.

"We just know that it needs to be replaced and that's the whole issue," said Airport Manager Deb Murray.

The FAA has agreed to arrange for a grant totaling approximately $350,000 for the new beacon and other airport improvements provided the beacon is moved to the airport, or the current Breeze Mountain land agreement is revised.

"The FAA will give us a new beacon if one of two things happen," Murray said. "Either we put it down at the airport, where we own the land and have access to it. Or we either own the land it's on now or have a long-term lease of that land and have access to it. They (the FAA) will not give it to us in the situation we have now."

A possible problem with relocating the beacon is potential light emission to surrounding residents.

Rick Patton, an aviation planner with Graham, Dietz and Associates, said a proposed shield could be built around the beacon to combat the light emissions problem.

"There will be light emissions closer to the airport and to those folks around there," Patton said. "We're doing the best we can with proposals of screening and things like that to try and mitigate those problems. But there will be issues. There's no doubt of that."

Patton also said each issue should be examined before a decision is made.

Murray said current access to the beacon does need to be addressed.

"We're worried about how difficult it is to get there," she said. "But, if our Road and Bridge Department can do some road maintenance and we're able to get there, then it's not a problem."

Pilot Blaine Tucker, who also works at the Craig airport, said it is better where it is at as a navigational aid.

"It's up there where you can see it," Tucker said Monday. "If it's moved to the airport to the southeast, it won't show up at all."

The FAA has a July 11 deadline for the project. The county commissioners expect to reach a decision

by June 18.

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