Oregon Department of Aviation Adopts Airport to List of Significant Airports
Sisters Eagle Airport reports the inclusion in the Oregon Department of Aviation’s (ODA) List of Significant Airports. On April 20 the ODA board unanimously voted, for a second time, to add the Sisters Eagle Airport to the List within the State Aviation Plan of Airports of Significance.
The significance of the designation, while not directly related to the current questions the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has about some expenditure of grant funds, is important because Sisters Eagle Airport had to change the land use to operate as a general aviation airport and needed to make infrastructure improvements and set up a perimeter around the airport to protect the surrounding community of homes that have access to the airport.
The owners and management team of Sisters Eagle Airport worked very closely with ODOT throughout a grant application that included ConnectOregon and project execution to improve the airport.
”Throughout the process, Sisters Eagle Airport sought to maintain transparency and open communication with all of the community partners,” said Julie Benson, co-owner of the Sisters Eagle Airport.
The Sisters Eagle Airport received notification of ODOT’s demand for repayment of some of the grant funds on certain line items in late March. “We have reviewed the issues and have requested and been granted a meeting with ODOT on May 3,” explained Benson.
“We take this matter very seriously and are working to resolve it with ODOT as quickly as possible. We view Sisters Eagle Airport as an asset we can use to serve the greater Sisters community, one we have long been committed to.
“While we were completely shocked by ODOT’s request, we look forward to working in cooperation with ODOT to reach a mutually agreeable resolution to this matter. We have reviewed the details of their request and are confident that we will be able to address all of their concerns.”
The List of Significant Airports determination was based on criteria set forth in ORS836.610 which includes:
1. Provides important links in air traffic
2. Provides essential safety or emergency services or
3. Provides economic benefit to the county where the airport is located.
ODA staff reviewed data supplied by the Airport owners, public comments submitted during the process, held a public hearing and determined that the Sisters Airport met all three criteria.
“We’re delighted to have once again been recognized by the Oregon Department of Aviation as an Airport of Significance,” said Benson. “We’re committed to the success of the Sisters Eagle Airport and are now looking forward to sitting down with ODOT to address their concerns pertaining to the Connect Oregon Grant.
In response to the recent notification given to Sisters Eagle Airport by ODOT, and the recent press surrounding this issue, the airport team wanted to share a statement to provide an update on the situation.
“We see the Sisters Eagle Airport as a true community asset,” said Benny Benson, co-owner of the Sisters Eagle Airport. “This is a real public safety asset – a landing zone for AirLink and Life Flight emergency helicopter flights and a staging area for wildland firefighting aircraft.
“Sisters Eagle Airport is an economic engine for both tourism and business aviation. It is more than just a rural airport. Sisters Eagle is a community venue, a host to a range of events and a base for the Sisters High School Flight Science Program. Our partnership with ConnectOregon and the Oregon Department of Transportation ensures the future vitality of the local community that we call home.”