BOULDER, Colo. — Community members filed into a lobby in Boulder Tuesday bringing with them curiosity and ideas about a property a few miles away – the Boulder Municipal Airport (BDU).
According to the city, the airport is due for a new Airport Master Plan, which is a process that is guided by the FAA.
“I think at this point we could go in a variety of different directions," said Boulder's Senior Transportation Planner Allison Moore-Farrell at the first of three open houses Tuesday night.
But in a separate project, the city kicked off a community engagement process in preparation of the future master plan to "...understand the community's desired future for Boulder Municipal Airport and recommended next steps."
The first of three open houses occurred Tuesday night.
The final recommendation, the city said, are also based off of the city’s Transportation Master Plan and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
“It’s kind of exciting to hear some community voices in this," Moore-Farrell said.
A history lesson to guide understanding
The city describes Boulder Municipal Airport as a general aviation airport.
It started as a dirt landing strip in 1928, before the name was made official in 1943, according to presentations at the open house.
It received its first federal grant in 1958, and additional land was bought between 1964 and 1969.
But the type of aviation that occurred at the airport has largely stayed consistent, according to the airport's manager, John Kinney.
“You don’t see too may jets coming in and out of the Boulder airport," he said, estimating that a private jet comes through BDU once every few weeks on most occasions.
The airport itself is mostly used by glider pilots, recreational pilots and first responders. The airport also does not have a control tower like Broomfield and Centennial do.
The airport is also not staffed 24/7, but did implement a flight tracking system in the spring of 2022.
“Right now, I think the community has a thirst to become more part of this airport and I think the pilot groups also want to find a way of how do we bring the community more into this airport so its more of a harmonistic relationship," Kinney said.
On the website's FAQ, when asked why the conversation about the airport is starting now, it references the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, "...which guides long-range planning in Boulder..."
In the plan's section on the airport, it states in part that, "The city will seek to mitigate noise, safety and other impacts of airport operation while assuring that new development in proximity will be compatible with existing and planned use of the airport."
It also says that at the time of the next Airport Master Plan, "...the city will work with the community to reassess the potential for developing a portion of the airport for housing and neighborhood-serving uses."
However, it remains unclear as of now which direction the city could move with the airport.
City planners will take feedback before presenting proposals to council, but Moore-Farrell said it has to be a robust process with regards to community engagement.
“So we’re looking at continuing safety at the airport and continuing our operations…can we also introduce other land uses? Can we look at other ways to improve community relations at the airport?" she said.
While they have already received feedback on mitigating noise, they're also listening to feedback specific to aviation.
“And some things we’ve heard thus far is looking at the future of aviation and how that could benefit the city of Boulder," she said. “Improvement can look different to different people."
Kinney explained his take on the airport's potential on several levels.
“Whether it’s people learning to fly, people understanding the economic value of an airport – what it brings in terms of tangible economic impacts to the community," he explained. "But at the same time not having the activities dominate or degrade the community’s quality of life to their homes.”
The city plans to have two more open houses, and will keep an online questionnaire public until May 4.
See other reports from 9NEWS reporter Luis De Leon:
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