The Port of Shelton Commission will be seeking a meeting with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration to discuss the Fairgrounds property that is just south of Sanderson Field. Port staff would like to move the Fairgrounds from its current location to an area northwest of the decommissioned runway. This would include some new construction while possibly moving existing buildings from the old location. The reasons to relocate the Fairgrounds include the cost of completing necessary infrastructure and building upgrades to the current facility in order to bring it up to code. It has been a longtime perception that the FAA requires the Fairgrounds to move from its current location when the current lease ends in 2013. Tuesday, Port Commissioner Jay Hupp stated his research shows the Fairgrounds are far enough from the runway to meet FAA regulations, questioned the Agency’s authority to dictate how the Port uses its property, and questioned where the Agency gets its authority.
While the other two Port Commissioners also want to save the Fairgrounds, they disagree with Hupp on challenging the FAA. Commissioner Tom Wallitner believes that if they show intent to move the facility, the FAA will give them more time.
The Port’s Executive Director, John Dobson, says the FAA has no objection to the new proposed location and to insure continued funding of the airport, they shouldn’t challenge the Agency.
After about 45 minutes of discussion, Port Commissioner Dick Taylor said they need to find out exactly what the community wants and the need to know where the FAA stands on the issue.
Taylor will set up a meeting with FAA officials in August. In the meantime, residents wishing to comment on the future of the Fairgrounds can do so to the Port of Shelton. The “Fairgrounds Future Use Plan” is available on the Port’s website and comments need to be made by the end of the month.