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Questions remain for Kalispell's city airport

By Kevin Lessard, KCFW Reporter, klessard@kcfw.com
Published On: Nov 06 2013 06:26:46 PM MST
Updated On: Nov 06 2013 10:49:18 PM MST
KALISPELL, Mont. -

Voters may have decided to repeal the Kalispell city airport project, but the debate on the airport's future is far from over.

Just one day after the vote, businesses at the airport are already beginning to feel the effects of voters deciding to repeal a $16 million expansion project.

"I've already had a customer come in this morning and tell me 'well, there it goes,'” said Kenneth Good.  “He was just waiting to see what happened.  He says 'my money's staying in my pocket.'"

Good is the owner of Kalispell Air Repair, an airplane repair and remodeling businesses based at the city airport. Good fears the vote could cause a drop in his business.

"I was pretty discouraged overall," Good said of the vote.

Good tells us that for him the project was mainly about the safety of the airport, as loose gravel and rocks are starting to be kicked up onto the runways and taxiways.  That can cause a punctured tire for an airplane and make for an unstable and unsafe landing for a pilot trying to land at the airport.

"In the spring, they shut down the one taxiway and we can't even use it because it heaves up so bad," Good said.

The project was expected to realign and pave a new, longer runway, add new taxiways, and a new public use helipad.

City council member Jim Atkinson was one of the five council members who voted in favor of the project last year. He knows how much was at stake with this vote.

"We've put in a lot of research there and a lot of time and a lot of work," said Atkinson.

Up next, the city will review the airport's budget next spring and decide what to budget for improvements or upgrades. But what those decisions will be, are a guess at this point.

"It is an issue that's going to come up because we have to do something to stabilize the airport," Atkinson said.