The Twin Falls, Idaho, City Council on March 7 approved use of airport land for a FedEx air cargo facility and also gave the go-ahead for a major remodeling of the Magic Valley Regional Airport terminal.
FedEx has expressed interest in developing a nearly 18,000-square-foot facility for its air express division for high priority parcels. Local aviation businesses, however, are concerned about the project’s potential to encroach on their future expansion.
While council members said they did not wish to hinder existing businesses, staff assured that this step in the process would not do so.
The motion to approve the land use passed 6-1.
“I’m a firm believer that a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush,” Councilman Greg Lanting said. “We don’t know what the future will hold for those other businesses.”
Mark Doerr, owner of Precision Aviation, said he hadn’t joined the conversation until December. His business of 15 years has a hangar about 115 yards from the proposed FedEx hangar, he said.
Doerr said a proposed future taxiway extension, which would allow FedEx to have larger aircraft coming to and from the facility, would use property he had hoped to have for expansion, possibly in the next couple of years.
“That means we have zero ability to grow our business at this point,” Doerr said.
Airport Manager Bill Carberry said the land use agreement would not preclude any future expansion of existing businesses. The taxiway and ramp locations are conceptual at this point, he said.
Suzanne Hawkins cast the dissenting vote.
“I’m very supportive of FedEx coming,” Hawkins said. “I think they’re going to be a great addition to our airport, but I wish we’d had time to answer the concerns of the existing business owners before we made the decision. For me, it was just timing.”
City Manager Travis Rothweiler said he had not been aware of any concerns on the project moving forward. Councilman Chris Talkington told the Times-News that as a liaison to the airport advisory board, he had heard no concerns from the adjacent businesses at those meetings.
The council unanimously approved moving forward with the terminal building project, which will have a cost of more than $4.4 million but a local, city-county share of only about $179,000. The project bid was awarded to Petersen Brothers Construction in May 2015, and construction could begin in April.
The council also approved an agreement with Idaho Power for an existing safety fence at Shoshone Falls and awarded the bid for the Wills Pump Station to RSCI of Boise for $2.9 million, with money set aside for contingency and opportunities.