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Plans proposed for central Idaho airport land

Officials in the central Idaho resort area of the Wood River Valley are considering how best to use 210 acres that will become available in Hailey once Friedman Memorial Airport moves to a new location due to safety concerns.

Planners earlier this week listened to a team of consultants detail initial findings about what the community would like done with the property on the south end of town.

Over the years, residential areas have sprung up around the airport that’s also surrounded by high hills, making it too dangerous to continue serving the area, federal aviation officials say. A new airport is planned farther south.

Some ideas floated at the meeting include attracting an educational institution, a world-class medical facility, or corporate headquarters at the site about 15 miles south of the vacation destinations of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

“The big play here is to get out and market the heck out of the site,” said Rick Hill, founder of Kentucky-based development consultant Village Solutions.

Other ideas included a sewage treatment plant, transportation hub, or some other type of civic infrastructure once the airport moves south, The Times-News reported.

“The city of Hailey is going to be on the hot seat. It’ll be a careful balance of allowing uses there that won’t deter existing business,” said Tom Bowman, Blaine County commissioner and member of the Friedman Memorial Airport Association, which manages the existing airport.

About half of the land was bought by the Federal Aviation Administration and must be sold or redeveloped to pay for the new airport planned to the south.

The other half is owned by the Friedman family trust, whose ancestors first donated the land for the airport. Members of the trust have said redeveloping the land as part of the airport relocation process is acceptable. The land would otherwise revert back to the family once the airport closes.

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