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Council hears ideas for use of old airport

City Council heard two ideas about how to use the historic airport property during its meeting Tuesday, Oct. 8, and could move forward by requesting formal proposals in December or January.

Originally, three proposals were submitted to the city about how to use the 22.67 acre parcel at 1401 Boulder City Parkway and discussed at the Aug. 28 Historic Preservation Committee meeting. The Bullock Field Coalition withdrew its presentation before the council meeting.

Rob Martin said he withdrew it because the request for information didn’t make sense unless it was more detailed and for the property and the surrounding area, too, which is what he said he was told to include in the proposal.

“The other problem is that they way the proposal was done, the RFI, it doesn’t really work … . This really needed to be a more complete proposal to begin with, which is what two of us did propose … . Given what you guys did, this doesn’t work,” he said. “If you’re trying to do anything with this (the property), it doesn’t work.

City staff solicited requests for information about how to use the 8,000-square-foot hangar and 18.3 acres of runway. The proposals were to include ideas that would bring new visitors into the city, preserve and promote the historic nature of the site and be innovative in their quality and design.

Chris Gonya and Grant Turner presented their idea of the Dandy Horse Ranch, which included turning the hangar into an event venue along with a motorcoach resort with RV campsites, modern housing and an area for track cycling. It would also provide connectivity for people to ride their bicycles into town.

“We obviously want to honor what’s there as much as possible,” Gonya said.

Turner said he was most excited to talk about the hangar because using it as an event venue could help the town’s economy thrive.

“We are a very vocal no-growth or low-growth community … . How do we thrive economically with just 15,000 residents?” he said. “Events. We are an event destination. It’s what we are known for.”

Turner also said they intend to keep the runways in place on the property.

The council members expressed some concern about the effect that would have on the residential areas nearby.

“I have a concern about turning this into an event venue with events every weekend,” said Mayor Kiernan McManus.

Turner said he with the events he holds at The Dillinger Food and Drinkery and in downtown Boulder City he is used to making them work in residential areas.

“I have a good track record with holding musical events near residential areas,” he said.

Additionally, McManus said he was concerned about the number of people those events would bring in every weekend.

“I don’t know how you’d get new visitors if you’re not doing something new,” Gonya said.

The second proposal was presented by Stuart Litjens of Boulder Boats and Caleb Gray of Boulder City RV. They proposed using the hangar for maintenance and storage of RVs as well as using the runway for local and secure boat and RV storage and camping.

“We looked at what problems we can solve with this,” Litjens said.

He said their plan would solve their problem of needing more space for their businesses. For the city, it would help solve the problem of RV and boat storage and parking for local residents by providing them with free or subsidized areas for their boats and RVs.

Additionally, it would provide transient storage for people going to Lake Mead with their boats. They could park them on the property and then go into town to eat or stay at a hotel.

Litjens owns the property adjacent to the hangar.

Councilwoman Tracy Folda asked what their plan for the hangar space included.

“We’ll keep it as original,” Litjens said. “A hangar’s use is maintenance and that is what it will be used for … . It would really be no different than what it is used for now, but the doors would be open and RVs would be in there.”

Additionally, Gray said they would make the outside look like it did 75 years ago.

McManus said he appreciated them keeping in mind the city’s issues with parking and that it would fill a need in town.

Several residents expressed concerns about how either idea would affect the property values of their homes.

The next step for council is for each member to share his or her preferences for the ideas to staff, which would then create a formal request for proposal that could be issued in December or January.

Prior to the presentation Councilman James Howard Adams abstained from the deliberation and any vote because his fiancée works for Turner.

The property was the city’s only airport until 1990 and, most recently, was leased out to a contractor for storage.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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