The first of four public meetings will be held at the Prineville/Crook County Airport as work begins on a master plan for the facility

Prineville/Crook County Airport leaders have begun making plans for the future of the aviation facility and are inviting the public to participate in the process.

Work is set to begin on an airport master plan, which manager Kelly Coffelt said will establish a long-term plan for the facility and cover many facets of its operations and future growth.

“We are covering a huge amount of ground,” he said. “Everything from how it affects the city to surrounding areas in regards to planning and urban growth to asphalt maintenance and management.”

Without a master plan, there are limits to what improvements the airport can make. Coffelt explained that since part of their funding comes federal sources, they have to have a document in place that details pre-planned projects and is approved by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

As they develop that plan, Coffelt feels the public should participate in the process.

“The airport is a community asset and I want to make sure that the community has plenty of input and is also educated on what the airport is doing and where we are at.”

Coffelt stressed that anyone with an interest in the airport and its future is invited to attend the opening session. The way he sees it, people need not have an airplane, rent a hangar, or have anything to do with aviation to provide meaningful input.

“With the consultant there being involved, it’s going to be a great platform for people to not only give input, but learn what is going on up here,” he said.

The first meeting will feature a lot of education on what the master plan is going to cover as well as what issues and future projects the airport faces. Nevertheless, people are invited to ask their own questions to help them understand the airport better.

“Why don’t we have 747s landing at Prineville? Why are we growing right now?” Coffelt offered as potential queries. “Those are questions that need to be brought up . . . We could answer all of those questions. We can talk about what our niche is and how we are going to prosper.”

Wednesday’s meeting will be the first of four public sessions scheduled between now and July or August 2014. After those meetings conclude and the master plan is completed, it needs final FAA approval to become official.

“Right now, we have a blank piece of paper,” Coffelt said. “Once that (master plan) is done, it is our road map for at least 10 years.”

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