It’s been a rocky road of sorts for the Newport City Council and its airport over the past few years. Personalities, differing strategies for growth, management challenges, and a kiss and goodbye attempt at scheduled airline service has left the city feeling a bit used and abused.
One continuing problem has been maintaining a full Airport Advisory Committee. They’re always a bit short on membership. Monday night the city council again talked about that challenge. Under discussion was the the idea of adding another member that lives outside the city. That rankled at least one or two councilors who pointedly asked “why give more political and decision-making power to those who, by virtue of living outside the city, don’t pay property taxes to support the airport?”
Then City Manager Spencer Nebel suggested that the committee be expanded to 7 members, up from five. A couple of councilors remarked that they’re having enough trouble amassing a three member quorum at most meetings – why would anyone want to make it harder by requiring four or five?
But Nebel stuck to his guns by suggesting that a broader spectrum of the community should perhaps be sitting on the committee – people who own sizable businesses who could better promote the use of the airport. Further suggestions, though not specifically offered by Nebel might include specialty tourism flights. Maybe an out of the area charter service or someone related to marine science and/or equipment delivery and repair or maintenance. The idea that pleasure oriented private pilots, like the ones that are on the committee now, are fine, but maybe it’s time for the city to spread it’s wings a bit and broaden the membership so they’re not always short of members showing up for meetings.
Although there was a few winced faces, the motion was made to expand the Airport Advisory Committee to seven. The vote tally was unanimous to go with Nebel’s request.