By Kelley Atherton
The Border Coast Regional Airport Authority welcomed a new member Thursday.
On June 23, the Brookings City Council members unanimously decided to sign the Joint Powers Agreement with Del Norte County, Crescent City and Elk Valley Rancheria. Brookings City Councilman Dave Gordon took a seat on the board at the Thursday meeting.
The JPA gives the four entities authority over the Del Norte County Airport.
Airport Manager Jim Bernard introduced Gordon and noted he has been a member of the Airport Advisory Committee in Del Norte for several years.
"He's up to speed and will be quite an asset," Bernard said.
Gordon said that he has had an interest in the local airport for a while and has supported the idea of Brookings joining with its neighbors. The Del Norte County airport is the closest commercial airport to Brookings.
"To have economic development, we need to have an airport," Gordon said.
The official signing of the new JPA will be Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. at the airport.
Chairman David Finigan, who has advocated for Brookings, Gold Beach, Ore., and Curry County governments to join the airport board, said this union is one for the history books.
"I can't overstate the significance," he said about the two cities, county and sovereign nation working together to benefit the airport.
The most significant aspect is the fact that Brookings is in another state, Finigan added.
"This is the first in the nation that I'm aware of," he said.
Having a partner from Oregon's 4th Congressional District, Rep. Peter DeFazio, will give the airport board extra political clout. Now there will be two congressmen able to earmark funds for airport improvements.
"It helpsthis has more of an impact to get funding nationally," Gordon said about the California North Coast and Oregon South Coast coming together.
Finigan also announced that Curry County has allocated $1,500 to the board to market the airport.
The city of Gold Beach and Curry County have also both been invited to be part of the JPA. Both entities are working out the details, and Finigan added that it looks promising.
"We've cracked the ice with Brookings," he said.
The city of Gold Beach is still waiting for some updated details from the airport board.
"We're not adverse to it," said Gold Beach Mayor Karl Popov, adding that the city would like to see the new JPA with Brookings.
Curry County has other concerns about the liability of managing an airport.
"Airport insurance can't be part of our general liability, we have to have a separate policy for airports," said Curry County Commissioner Lucie La Bonte said. "That seems to be the sticking point. This does not mean we don't support the airport."
The Yurok Tribe has expressed interest in joining, but a legal issue with the state is standing in the way at the moment. Smith River Rancheria has also been asked to join.