Mead & Hunt presentation irks supporters of Bishop Airport
“I feel we were sandbagged on this,” said Stephen Kalish at the presentation of the Eastern Sierra Air Service Strategic Plan on Thursday, December 7, referring to consultant Jeff Hartz’s somewhat limited discussion of Inyo County and Bishop Airport as players in bringing reliable regional air service to the Eastern Sierra.
Inyo County CAO Kevin Carunchio also took exception to the presentation led by Hartz, who works for Mead & Hunt, the consulting group that Mammoth Lakes Tourism hired in August to develop a “10 year strategic plan” (according to Mammoth Lakes Tourism Exec. Director John Urdi in August of this year) for air service to the Eastern Sierra (at a cost of over $70,000).
Carunchio said that there were “complete misstatements of fact as they exist in the report,” regarding Bishop Airport’s readiness to become Part 139 certified (the standard the Federal Aviation Administration sets for commercial air service). Namely, Hartz’s assertion that it would cost $6 million to widen Bishop’s runways to 150 feet was inaccurate, Carunchio said. Carunchio said that Bishop’s runways are, in fact, already 150 feet wide, but “have not been maintained.”
At the beginning of the presentation, Mammoth’s Public Works Director Grady Dutton acknowledged that “the outside edges of [Bishop Airport’s runways] hadn’t been rehabbed yet.”
Dutton, as well as Urdi and Mammoth Mayor John Wentworth, emphasized that the December 7 presentation was a “jumping off point” (Urdi) and that “Jeff [Hartz] has a long way to go, and he knows that” (Dutton).