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"Growth pleases new Utah airport manager"



Friday, July 15, 2011

Growth pleases new airport manager
By Brian Ahern
The St. George (UT) Spectrum


ST. GEORGE - Recently hired airport manager Richard Stehmeier told the St.
George City Council on Thursday the city's transition issues with the new
airport have largely subsided, opening opportunities for further growth and
planning.

"We've been trying to get the dust settled literally and figuratively," he
said.

In his first month on the job, Stehmeier said he's focused on getting out of
the office and forging personal relationships with local pilots and hangar
owners who took issue with the city's terms for moving hangar leases to the
new airport. Though dozens of pilots spent months prior to the airport's
January opening largely in a stalemate with the city, Stehmeier said just
about everybody has now made the move.

"Of the 63 hangars, (at the old airport) 60 have moved over. And two more
are in various stages of moving," he said. "The old saying 'If you build it
they will come' still seems to be true. They're a happy group, which is a
change from the past."

On top of that, Stehmeier said, 20 more hangars have been added to the
airport in its first six months of existence.

"That's pretty incredible," he said.

Public Works Director Larry Bulloch, meanwhile, said Stehmeier's
interpersonal skills have been incredible, adding they were important in
both his hiring and his work to repair the city's troubled relationship with
local pilots.

"He has been asked to go out and do some healing," Bulloch said.

When it comes to facilitating growth, Stehmeier said the $4 per day parking
fees - which went into effect July 1 - would play a significant role. In its
first two weeks of parking fees, Stehmeier said the airport earned $355 per
day in revenue.

"We expect it will become a fairly large economic engine for the airport,"
he said.

City Councilman Jon Pike added it's important to note the city didn't
institute the fees simply to make money.

"We wouldn't charge this if we didn't feel like we had to," he said. "We'll
raise revenue, but the airport costs a lot of money to run."

When it came to the old airport property, Bulloch said the loose ends and
lease expiration issues have been resolved.

"We're closing the door on the old airport," he said. "We're looking ahead
now."

Stehmeier added the look ahead should include a 40-50 year master plan for
the new airport.

"Once we put it on paper the FAA will help fund it," he said. "That's
something this body really needs to look at."

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