PDX Airport planning group takes on new, extended role

Although their job is now done, find out why the members of the “PDX Airport Futures Planning Advisory Group” will continue to meet indefinitely – and, what this means to folks in outer East Portland

Sean Laughran, Senior Aviation Planner for Portland International Airport, and Alesia Reese, member of the PDX Airport Futures Planning Advisory Group, show a graphic which defines the long-range development plan for the airport.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Even though the main tasks for which the “PDX Airport Futures Planning Advisory Group” was originally assembled are concluding, it appears that many of its members will continue to meet into the future.

> For background on this project, see our story from 2009: CLICK HERE.

In the Parkrose High School’s Community Room, on May 13, the public was invited to see and comment on the work done by the Advisory Group, which had been working to create a new long-range plan for Portland’s municipal airport. On display was their main work product, which included:

  • Sustainability Goals;
  • PDX Draft Master Plan;
  • City’s Draft Land Use Plan for PDX;
  • Noise Management;
  • PDX Airport’s North Runway Extension; and,
  • Ongoing Public Involvement Strategy.

Airport becomes a ‘planned district’
Sean Laughran, Senior Aviation Planner for Portland International Airport, described the process as collaborative venture that brought together business people, neighborhood representatives, the City of Portland, and the Port of Portland.

“The group was to look out to year 2035, and ask questions about how much we expect the airport to grow, and how that growth will be accommodated,” Laughran told us.

Of note, Laughran pointed out, is that the airport will be getting a new land use designation. “That means it won’t be a ‘conditional use’ anymore. We are now a planned district. A number of features go along with that, which will be of interest to the public.”

Jay Sugnet, Senior Planner with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, discusses the project with Dan Dhruva.

A ‘three-year cruise’ ends
The Planning Advisory Group was first assembled in September 2007, Laughran said. “Many of these members have stayed with us over the last three years, to help realize a long-term vision for the airport. We are nearing a conclusion of that process. This summer, the plan will be presented to the Portland Planning Commission, Portland City Council, Port of Portland Commission, and eventually to the Federal Aviation Authority, for final approved.”

Laughran observed that the work is the contribution of 20 voting members and 10 ex-officio members, including representatives from both sides of the Columbia River, as well as three counties on the Oregon side, and members of other or interested groups. “I believe we’ve had more than 260 public meetings and events, throughout the process.”

Evaluated the past, looking toward the future
The group considered how past investments made in the airport over the last 20 years have paid dividends, Laughran said. “This includes the rehabilitation of the south runway; the development of the terminal building; the terminal expansion on the north and south sides; reconstruction of the front of the building, through the terminal access project and parking garage; and skybridge and tower.”

Looking forward, the “PDX Master Plan” identifies modest improvements to be made over the coming decade to provide sufficient capacity to meet all of projected needs through 2035. The approach taken by the group was to maximize the utility of the infrastructure already in place.

“People were very interested in the likelihood of a third runway, and the timing of when that third, parallel runway would be constructed,” Laughran pointed out. “The answer is, we see that project to be very far in the distance – way beyond the planning horizon of 2035.”

Patrick Metzger, representative for Central Northeast Neighbors on the planning advisory group, talks with Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Environmental Planner Mindy Brooks.

Group morphs into Advisory Committee
Asked how she felt about the process coming to an end, group member Alesia Reese, a member of the Parkrose School Board, and chair of Woodland Park Neighborhood Association, responded, “It’s not coming to an end. It’s just beginning, and the exciting part is ahead of us. This is when we transition to an ongoing public involvement committee.”

Reese explained that there is a commitment to continue to participate in what is called the “PDX Community Advisory Committee”. “We’ll work, long-term, to engage people about the airport. I hope to represent the 13 neighborhoods of East Portland; and, other neighborhood coalitions will also be represented. This’ll be a new day for the Port of Portland, about which we’re very excited.”

Learn more
To follow the progress of the Master Plan, or learn more about – or perhaps to apply to participate in – the PDX Community Advisory Committee, check their website: CLICK HERE to open their home page. Or, call the Port of Portland at (503) 460-4143.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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