SeaTac City Council meeting, city questions study of airport

Discussion:

Airport study questioned
A letter, lengthily discussed by the Council Tuesday night, was signed by Mayor Erin Sitterley because the Council wants to “express its concerns regarding the process by which the Sea-Tac Airport Study is being conducted under the management” of the state Department of Commerce. Burien and Des Moines have not expressed that concern.

SeaTac demands a response by Dec. 10.

SeaTac is paying 50 percent of the participating cities’ share of the study and 25 percent of the overall project cost.

“This amounts to $150,000,” wrote Sitterley. “As elected officials, it is our responsibility to ensure the city’s financial resources are being spent wisely.”

Legislation passed in 2018
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6032 passed in the 2018 session. “It clearly defines the study to be delivered to the legislature on December 1, 2019,” but the study deadline has already been extended to June 1, 2020.

The city letter (download PDF here) says that based on the information presented at a Nov. 6, public meeting and “current additional interviews the project consultant is proposing, the City of SeaTac is concerned that Commerce will not be able to deliver the requested detailed analysis as specified in the scope of work and directed by the Legislature by June 1, 2020.”

SeaTac’s letter says the city wants “full assurances from Commerce that the study will be completed on time with the degree of thoroughness as defined.”

The city’s letter adds “we also understand the consultant project lead is located in Dallas and therefore, officials fly out for each advisory committee and public meeting. It is reasonable to assume these trips are not inexpensive. Minimizing those costs should be a goal moving forward, another reason to stick to the original proposal of having public review of a draft document, rather than inviting input prior to completion of work.”

Not enough money
Further, the SeaTac City Council letter says “it is our understanding that at the outset, the Technical Advisory Committee recognized the total $600,000 of funding would likely not be sufficient to provide the degree of thoroughness that would be desired for a study of this nature. The City of SeaTac shares that concern.

“Please provide a report of the project’s current budget status, a complete list of how funds have been expended to date and the amount of funds remaining to complete the study. Included in this report, the city would like a full accounting of all travel related expenses for … consultants to fly from Dallas to the SeaTac area.”

Burien meeting
Sitterley said several SeaTac City Council members and citizens attended a Nov. 6, 2019 public meeting in Burien.

“The councilmembers and citizens were frustrated with how the information was presented,” the mayor wrote. “More importantly, there are serious questions about (consultant) Stantec’s data gathering and questions about its relevancy to the airport, given the location of monitoring stations which lie outside of the clearly defined study area,” said the letter.

“The City of SeaTac is concerned Stantec has strayed from the original scope of work which is a technical study on the impacts of airport operations,” said the SeaTac letter. “One noted concern is we understand Commerce and the consultant are planning to meet with certain “expert” community members in early January, prior to publication of a draft report.”

The letter adds that SeaTac “requests a response from Commerce to our requests in this letter by 2 p.m. December 10.

“In summary, we are concerned this study is not going in the right direction and we want to redirect it before further taxpayer funds are expended,” concluded the letter.